Fun Facts About America’s Favorite Fuel

I learned a little bit about gas today at lunch. On the History channel was “Gasoline,” the story of the world’s favorite fuel. Among the grainy shots of old oil derricks was newer footage of the process of refining crude oil into gas. They showed jolly looking antique trucks that used to transport the fuel in gallon jugs, many of which ignited unceremoniously on their way to people’s homes. It was big news in the 1930s when someone rejiggered an oil derrick and invented the gasoline pump.

I learned also that gas is indeed, no different from gas station to gas station. In fact a barrel of gas sent into a pipeline in Bayview Texas is different from the one that emerges in Everett, MA. Because Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Shell, BP and the rest all use the same transcontinental pipes. The gas is barely separated among the regular, super and super duper, either. Any brand difference or quality claim is only a result of additives that are put in just before the gas is loaded into 10-wheelers for delivery to a local gas station.

The different kinds of gas such as diesel, high test, and regular gas are sent through the pipeline and separated by a device known as a pig. The stuff that merges in between is sold to places that can use combined fuels. There are also pigs that go through the pipes and clean out all of the crud in the pipe. It’s amazing when you look at how much gunk gets into those pipes…mounds and mounds of sludge.