Which Fuel Is Worse for the Environment – Petrol or Diesel?

Which Fuel Is Worse for the Environment – Petrol or Diesel

As the world population continues to grow, so does vehicular transportation. Consumers rely on their cars for commuting, transporting goods and services, and adventurous road trips. While cars and other automobiles provide us with immense convenience and freedom, they also come with a significant environmental cost. One of the most pressing environmental questions motorists face is whether petrol or diesel is worse for the environment. 

Petrol and Diesel: How Do They Differ?

Petrol, also known as gasoline, is a lightweight fuel compared to diesel. Both fuels have significant differences in their chemistry. Gasoline is mainly composed of short-chain hydrocarbons with 5-12 carbon atoms per molecule, while diesel consists of longer-chain hydrocarbons with 8-21 carbon atoms.

The size of hydrocarbon molecules in gasoline and diesel plays a crucial role in determining their pollution rates. This is due to two reasons. Firstly, diesel fuel is approximately 10-15% more energy-dense than gasoline per gallon or litre. Additionally, fuels with longer and larger hydrocarbon chains tend to be more stable. The stability of a fossil fuel, particularly its resistance to compression, determines its suitability for powering different types of engines.

Diesel Versus Petrol: Pros and Cons

When it comes to reducing CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions, diesel engines have the advantage over petrol engines. This is due to their unique fuel composition and internal efficiency. Diesel fuel has a higher compression ratio and outperforms petrol in terms of performance, resulting in less fuel consumption for the same distance travelled and a greater reduction in CO2 emissions. Estimates show that diesel engines emit approximately 10% less CO2 compared to petrol engines in the same category. While diesel vehicles may seemingly have an advantage in some aspects, the story is not so straightforward.

Petrol engines are a cleaner option compared to diesel engines when it comes to emitting fine particles and air pollutants. Diesel engines require substantial amounts of air for combustion, which leads to more chemical reactions and the release of significant amounts of harmful pollutants such as dioxides, nitrogen oxides, and fine particles like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

While diesel engines used to emit far more fine particles than petrol engines, advancements have been made to address this issue. Particulate filters have been installed in diesel engines to comply with stricter standards on particulate matter pollution. These filters can filter out between 90 and 99% of the polluting mass particles. However, they are not able to capture the finest and largest particles produced by diesel engines. Dieselgate is a testament to this flaw, as carmakers were exposed for surpassing emission standards, going as far as using defeat devices to cheat on emission tests. Nissan’s involvement in the diesel emissions scandal and their admission in falsifying data adds to this fact Furthermore, studies have shown that these filtering technologies do not always effectively reduce NOx emissions.

In real-world driving conditions, diesel engines pollute more than what manufacturers claim, even with the presence of filters. This is why experts now agree that diesel engines produce more fine particles than their petrol counterparts.

The Answer

Both petrol and diesel have their pros and cons when it comes to the environment. Petrol produces lower particulate emissions, but diesel has lower CO2 emissions. Petrol is more widely distributed and more fuel-efficient, but diesel is more suitable for larger vehicles and equipment.

One crucial aspect to consider in the ongoing petrol versus diesel debate is the age of the vehicles in question. While newer diesel cars are designed to meet modern emissions standards and can produce the same or even fewer emissions than gasoline cars when fitted with the correct filters, older diesel cars, and trucks pose a greater threat to public health, air quality, and urban driving conditions. Studies have shown that the effects of diesel emissions on the environment and health are more severe than petrol emissions due to the higher level of particulate matter in diesel exhaust. Petrol is still a fossil fuel, and both fuels contribute to air pollution and climate change.

Therefore, the best solution is to transition towards more sustainable, renewable energy sources such as electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cells, and biofuels that reduce emissions and improve air quality. Until the world adopts clean energy sources, both petrol and diesel must be used responsibly. It is up to governments, industries, and individuals to ensure the sustainable use of non-renewable resources.

Where Can I Find Assistance for My Diesel Claim?

Diesel claims entail intricate legal procedures that necessitate the expertise of skilled professionals. If you have been adversely affected by diesel emissions and require assistance with your claim, there are multiple avenues through which you can seek support – one being With the right guidance and representation, you can take meaningful steps to recover compensation for your losses and protect yourself, your family, and the environment.