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It’s all about combustion, whether you are running a gas or diesel engine. With a gas engine, octane is key. The higher the octane content of gas, the more pressure or heat that fuel can resist before combusting. In diesel fuel, it’s all about cetane.
A diesel compresses intake air so much that it reaches a temperature of nearly 400°F., which is the ignition point of the fuel. Once the air is compressed, the fuel is injected and ignites. Unlike a gas engine that premixes fuel and air, the fuel and intake air mixture in diesels is not uniformly mixed.