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How Long Can Gasoline Be Stored (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Three To Six Months

Gasoline or more famously known as petrol is one of the necessary components required for a combustion engine to work. Sometimes, gasoline or petrol is also called gas. It is a highly flammable liquid that is used as fuel. 

Usually, there are gas stations where people can visit and get their vehicle filled with gasoline to drive a vehicle. In some cases, people also like to keep it stocked for various purposes like being used in lawnmowers, portable electricity generators, and much more.

If it is about the storage of the gasoline, it is imminent to know how to store it and how long it can be stored.

How Long Can Gasoline Be Stored?

Gasoline is a fuel that is derived majorly from crude oil and other petroleum liquids. Although Crude oil can last a millennium, gasoline is prepared from substances derived from the crude oil, and then mixed with other substances like ethanol. That is why gasoline tends to spoil at one point.

After some time gasoline will lose all its properties and become unfit for usage. The gas can go bad anywhere, whether it is in a car that is not being used or kept in a can in the garage. In general, gasoline can spoil in about three to six months.

However, there are many factors in play when the shelf life of gasoline is considered. Once the gas is past its expiry date, using it can do more harm than good. 

One imminent factor that can enhance or degrade the shelf life of gasoline is how it is stored. If stored in good condition, it can be used for up to six months. But if not stored correctly, it will not even last for three months.

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The type of fuel also matters as different fuel types will have different constitutions. Often, ethanol-blended gasoline tends to have a shorter shelf-life as compared to fuel-stabilized gasoline.

Type of fuelShelf-life of the fuel
Ethanol-blended gasMaximum three months
Pure gasolineThree to six months
Fuel stabilized gasolineOne to two years

Why Can Gasoline Be Stored For So Long?

It is necessary to store a flammable thing like gasoline with care. A little careless activity can cause a big problem. There are a few reasons why gasoline can be stored only for such a period, and the reasons are as follows:

  • The most necessary component in gasoline is oxygen, which can also create the problem of oxidization. The oxygen molecules which is present in gasoline can affect the hydrocarbons over time. These molecules gradually change the overall structure of the hydrocarbons, thus causing oxidization.
  • Increased oxidation leads to decreased combustion efficacy of the gasoline. It means that the engine will not perform the best with oxidized gasoline.
  • The ethanol level also plays an important role, as the ethanol in the gasoline overtime starts attracting the water molecules that are in the environment. The addition of the water molecules then leads to the gasoline being diluted, and not highly efficient. This in turn shortens the overall time for which the gasoline can be stored. 
  • The temperatures is also a deciding factor when it comes to the shelf- the life of the gasoline because of the hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons in the gasoline that are lighter will evaporate faster. The more evaporation, the more oxidization. 
  • Since more oxidization means a shorter shelf-life of gasoline, gasoline that has lighter hydrocarbons will spoil faster. 
  • When the gasoline is stored in a clean and dry place, and inside an airtight gasoline storage appropriate container, it will last for a much longer time, compared to when stored shabbily.
  • The shelf life of the gasoline. can be increased considerably if fuel stabilizers are added to it. 
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Conclusion

When it comes to the gasoline that is left in the car’s fuel tank, it tends to start losing its efficiency after a month of not being used. 

If the gasoline is being stored outside, it is necessary to keep a track of the expiry date along with the texture of the gasoline. It can add to the shelf life if the gasoline is being stored in a cool, and low oxygen environment. This way the gasoline can be used for about six months without any problems.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016236112004565
  2. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.energyfuels.7b04034
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