Sunday, July 5, 2009

RON 95 - An introduction to Gasoline Octane

I have been very busy lately, consumed by the many things that are happening personally and professionally. Hence why i have not been updating my blog for a very long time. I am now tired of writing on politics…a subject that I am not very well versed and I have less control over. I figure that i might as well write on something that I have expertise in. But I doubt it will be long before I start rambling about the things that happen around me…in short bebel la!
The government very recently announced the introduction of RON95 fuel to replace RON92, and ever since then, I have received numerous questions pertaining this from many of my friends and acquaintances . The following is my attempt to explain RON in a not too technical way (oftentimes I fail miserably, as my fellow colleagues in External Communications would testify):

RON, which stands for Research Octane Number, is a measure of octane quality of gasoline/petrol fuels whereby Octane is the ability of the fuel to resist engine knocking. So what is engine knocking?

This is where I really struggle to articulate in laymen terms. Engine knocking is an undesirable phenomenon that happens when a section/pocket of the fuel and air mixture in the engine ignites spontaneously and prematurely before it is consumed by the flame that is ignited by the spark plug. In a normal combustion, the flame in the engine is ignited by the spark plug, which then propagates to consume the entire fuel and air mixture. So essentially engine knocking is one of the many examples of when abnormal combustion happens in an engine. Two common symptoms of engine knocking are sudden loss of power, and pinging/rattling sound that originates from under the hood. Engine knocking, if persists over a long period, could lead to severe and costly engine damage.

Basically, the number after the RON acronym, denotes the octane level of that fuel, which means that a RON 97 has higher octane level than RON95, thereby are more resistant towards engine knocking than the latter. So what is the significance of it? Which cars are compatible with RON95 ? It depends on your car. Check it out for yourself la…. I cannot have all the information in my tiny little head. So I would suggest that you start by looking at your vehicle manual under the “fuel” section. It should specify the minimum RON recommended/required for your car make and model. Just be sure that you always fill-up with a fuel that has a RON value that meets or exceeds the minimum RON required by your car. For example, if your car requires a RON of 92, then you could fill-up with any fuel that has a RON value of 92 or higher, therefore RON95 and RON97 is compatible with your car. But if your car requires a minimum RON of 97, then unfortunately you can only fill-up with a RON97 fuel (or higher). If you insist on using a lower RON fuel, you may get your car re-tuned (i.e. retard your spark timing), but at the expense of power and fuel economy deterioration.

So hope that helps. I am too sleepy to write more, and you can probably tell from my "direct-to-the-point" way of writing.

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