Few of us realize that during the transition period, gas stations serve us different fuel than usual. This is mainly due to temperature differences, which cannot affect the properties of gasoline. Check what is the difference between winter and summer gasoline
Theoretically, the driver does not have to worry about what he pours into the tank – this is done for him by the regulations applicable to filling stations. Engine quality should not depend on any station. In practice, it can be quite different – gasoline can be of different quality. As we all know, winter in Poland can be cold, and this leads to problems when starting the car and stagnation of engines. This applies to vehicles powered by all types of fuel and any combustion. The only difference is that some are more sensitive to temperature changes, others less. What doesn’t change is that cold temperatures cause huge problems for daily commuting and combustion problems.
Gasoline is the least susceptible to the negative effects of sub-zero temperatures. The composition of winter gasoline differs only slightly from that used in spring and summer. The only thing that changes with unleaded gasoline is the vapor pressure. Freezing temperatures cause the gasoline to vaporize less and therefore make it harder to ignite the mixture in the cylinder. At lower temperatures, refiners use special ingredients that increase the vapor pressure and thus vaporize winter gasoline more than summer gasoline. In gasoline, the flexibility of this fuel is increased by adding more light components, such as butane. As a general rule, the vapor pressure must not exceed 60 kPa in summer and 90 kPa in winter.
What do the regulations say?
EN 228: 2005 divides the year for gasoline into three climatic phases: summer (from May 1 to September 30), the transition period (from March 1 to April 30 and from October 1 to the end of November) and finally winter (from November to the last day of February). In winter, gasoline-powered cars are by far the most driver-friendly because only the volatility parameter of this fuel changes throughout the year. The biggest problem a gasoline-powered vehicle can encounter is freezing of water or water vapor in the fuel system, in small amounts. The most common solution to this type of problem is to add denatured alcohol to the tank, which binds the water and prevents it from freezing. Gasoline should not cause the problem.
In the opinion of an expert
Piotr Przybyliński, head of the Production Scheduling Team at PKN ORLEN, commented on the differences between winter and summer fuels via petronews.pl: “The main differences in the quality of produced fuels in different periods of the calendar year are the vapour pressure in the case of petrol, which is higher in winter and transition periods than in summer. As far as diesel fuel is concerned, the basic difference occurs in the low temperature properties, namely the turbidity temperature of diesel fuel and the cold filter blocking temperature. The mentioned parameters mainly affect the process of starting the engine as well as its proper operation during driving. Appropriate vapour pressure of finished petrol is ensured by selection of appropriate structure of components from which the final petrol is produced. On the other hand, we ensure very good low-temperature properties of diesel fuel in the transitional and winter period, by introducing a number of changes in technological processes, and we use an additive in the form of a depressant which improves, or lowers the cold filter blocking temperature”.
When do service stations provide “transitional” fuel?
These requirements for fuel availability at stations of appropriate quality are indicated by Polish standards and the regulation of the Minister of Economy. Therefore, winter gasoline is available at gas stations across the country as early as November 16