Back in 1876, German engineer Nikolaus Otto invented an engine that released energy from burned fuel, which made it possible to set the wheels in motion. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then, and the principle of the mechanism's operation has largely remained the same.

But the history of fuel over the decades has developed, probably as rapidly as the history of the car itself.

Photo # 1 - From Pharmacy Flasks to Modern Gas Stations: The Evolution of Automotive Fuel

Interestingly, gasoline is a good half century older than the internal combustion engine. It is believed that for the first time this fuel was experimentally obtained by the English scientist Michael Faraday back in the 19th century. Faraday tried to find a compound that would ignite with minimal effort. Raw materials were brought to the scientist from somewhere from Asia, and the English version of the word "gasoline" has Arabic roots, and in the original it means, oddly enough, "fragrant substance". After 70 years, Russian engineer Vladimir Shukhov received better quality gasoline and increased its efficiency.

Over time, there were fewer and fewer steam engines, and more and more cars with internal combustion engines. But for a long time, while the car continued to be a curiosity, there was no trace of normal gas stations: fuel was sold ... in pharmacies, and in small containers - for example, in bottles or sealed buckets. Gas stations, vaguely resembling modern ones, appeared only in the first decade of the twentieth century. It is interesting that in our country a store serves as an optional addition to a gas station, while in other countries, primarily in the United States, gas stations were most often built at stores as a bonus to the assortment of goods.

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The main "competitor" of gasoline to this day is diesel fuel. Its inventor, German engineer Rudolf Diesel, struggled to develop a modern engine that would replace the steam engine. True, the Diesel unit was originally designed for coal dust, but the development turned out to be too complicated and expensive, and it was decided to replace the main ingredient with a cheap oil product. The first prototype of such an engine had a height of three meters and a power of about twenty horsepower. And let it look monstrous, but even then it surpassed the efficiency of a steam engine by half.

Subsequently, the invention was finalized, and its own plant for the production of diesel engines appeared even in Russia, near St. Petersburg. At first, the units worked on kerosene, then on crude oil and, finally, on diesel fuel. Unfortunately, Rudolph Diesel himself did not manage to create a car running on a similar engine: the first such car - a Benz truck - appeared ten years after the scientist's mysterious disappearance in the deep sea. Thirteen years later, the designers released the first diesel passenger car - the Mercedes-Benz 260 D. Even then, he consumed only nine liters of fuel per hundred kilometers, and the gasoline engine of the same company was four liters more.

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It should be noted that petroleum products were initially far from the only raw material with which fuel inventors experimented. Why did they not try to "feed" cars at the dawn of the era of mass automotive industry! And alcohol, and all sorts of oils. For the famous people's car T, Henry Ford generally designed a power plant, which, with equal success, "fed" on ethanol, and gasoline, and even the products of their fusion.

However, oil won the race. This is partly because the price fell dramatically in the first half of the 20th century, and also because until the 1970s, automakers around the world were happy to build powerful, but very uneconomical engines. Then the famous oil crisis happened, and all these "monsters" with excellent appetite became too expensive to operate. And although the crisis passed a couple of years later, environmentalists began to sound the alarm. In short, scientists started testing alternative fuels again, and everything that was inexpensive and could be supplied on an industrial scale, including corn and sugarcane, was used. What can we say about ethanol. It is no coincidence, for example, in Brazil, which is considered one of the largest ethanol producers in the world, cars are designed for two types of fuel at the same time: for gasoline and for alcohol.

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Another substance that can replace gasoline is hydrogen. When it meets oxygen, a large amount of heat is generated, an electric current is generated, and the car moves forward. A simpler and more relevant option is electric vehicles that run on batteries. Now every major automaker has such models, another question is that the infrastructure for them - the same charging stations - is not available everywhere. So for a very long time, internal combustion engines will lead the market, but their fuel, according to statistics, is the most consumed product in the world. It is fuel - not even bread! By the way, the second place in terms of turnover is occupied by another liquid that is commonly sold at gas stations - coffee.

We often hear from drivers that, for example, gasoline is terrible at one gas station, but normal fuel can be taken for another. It is all the more surprising that by and large there is no universal formula for gasoline, since at each plant it is made from an individual set of petroleum products, fitting, of course, into the norms established by the state. A sample is taken from each batch, which is then examined in the laboratory - for example, the level of sulfur in the mixture is measured, which is detrimental to the mechanisms. Special additives are added to neutralize corrosion. Once again, the octane number is measured - an indicator characterizing the ability of a mixture of air and fuel to withstand compression ignition. The larger this number, the greater the distance the piston can move inside the engine, and the engine itself, accordingly, can develop more power.

And, of course, fuel prices differ dramatically in different parts of the world. If in Norway gasoline prices are among the highest in the world (almost three dollars per liter), then in Venezuela, Libya and Saudi Arabia you can buy a liter of fuel for just a few cents. In such states, many gas stations and cash registers do not exist, there is only a saucer where drivers throw change, because gasoline here is literally cheaper than water.