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Vapor Pressure

Pressure exerted by a gas above a liquid in a sealed container

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Gasoline: Is It In Season?

Vapor Pressure

Recall: Vapor pressure is the pressure exerted by gas particles that is released by liquid in a sealed container.

Credit: user: misdorisyu
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/midorisyu/2543481618/sizes/z/in/photostream/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

How do you fill your tank? [Figure1]

Today, gasoline comes in different types of blends depending on the season to ensure the optimal performance of your car. Recall Charles’s law: pressure varies directly with temperature. This law also applies to the vapor pressure of gasoline in engines. During summer months, the heat can cause an increase of vapor pressure in the fuel tank as gasoline vaporizes, making the vehicle unsafe to operate. In the winter months, the vapor pressure in the tank may be too low, due to the cold temperatures that come with winter. To counteract these problems, gasoline companies began to blend gasoline with other ingredients, adjusting the gasoline in the tanks to ensure a similar performance from your vehicle all year round.

Creative Applications

1. What would happen if you used summer-grade fuel during the winter months or vise-versa?

2. What factors affect vapor pressure?

3. If gasoline companies did not implement these seasonal blends, how else may one try to maintain a similar driving experience from their vehicle throughout the year?

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  1. [1]^ Credit: user: misdorisyu; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/midorisyu/2543481618/sizes/z/in/photostream/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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