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What Are Fuel Oils

Fuel oils are a variety of liquid mixtures that are obtained from the distillation of petroleum and their use involves burning them as fuel. The various types of fuel oil, which include kerosene, diesel fuel, and jet fuel, are produced by different refining processes. Fuel oils are free of sediment, and impurities and are low in viscosity.

Kerosene, also called home heating oil, is a combustible hydrocarbon liquid which is refined to a very high quality; therefore, it is clean burning and has a high heat output. There are different types of diesel oils which include white diesel, red diesel, and tractor diesel, all of which have different properties and are manufactured specifically to run in diesel engines. Commercial jet fuel is a high-octane fuel that is made from pure kerosene.

Uses for Fuel Oils

Fuel oils are less volatile than gasoline, and therefore, have a variety of domestic and industrial purposes. Kerosene fuel was, at one time, used in lamps and lanterns as the main source of lighting and cooking. It is still used today as a cooking fuel in some less developed countries and during camping and mountaineering. The most important use of fuel oils is for home heating where it is used in furnaces and boilers to provide heat to buildings. Home heating oil, also referred to as boiler juice, has very good burning characteristics and is recommended for domestic heating appliances. Fuel oils are also used in electric power and in industrial steam generation. Because of its low flame temperature, kerosene is used in the entertainment industry for fire performances such as fire breathing. Kerosene is also used in insecticide sprays, as a solvent for grease or adhesive, as a lubricant and as a component in other products.

Are Residual Fuel Oils still used?

Residual fuel oil contains relatively high concentrations of pollutants, such as sulphur and has a low viscosity. To make use, it needs to be heated inside a special heating system which releases sulfur, in the form of sulphur dioxide, upon combustion. Nevertheless, due to its undesirable properties its makes it very cheap to purchase and is regarded as the cheapest liquid fuel available.

Since residual fuel requires heating before use it cannot be used in road vehicles, boats or small ships, as the heating equipment takes up a large area making the vehicle a lot heavier. Also, heating the oil is a fragile process and it’s not possible to do on small, fast moving vehicles. However, more large power plants and large vessels like ships are able to use residual fuel oil.