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Fuel – Definition, Types, Advantages, Disadvantages, and More

Fuel Definition

Fuel is that substance that, when burned, generates energy that can have different uses, either in the domestic or industrial environment.

It is material that, when burned, releases energy that can serve as an input for different processes such as the operation of machinery, the generation of electric light—the mobilization of a means of transport such as the train or the ship.

In general, fuels can generate mechanical energy (to achieve movement) or thermal energy (to produce heat).

Fuels release energy upon reaching the point of ignition. Likewise, we must consider that its use usually leaves residues such as the more than known carbon dioxide.

What are the Types of Fuel?


1. Solid Fuels

Fuels that are found in their solid state at room temperature are generally referred to as Solid Fuels. They were the first kind of energy known to man, basically wood to create fire. Coal was another one of the influential strengths known to man as it leads the way for the industrial revolution, from firing furnaces to running steam engines.


  • More accessible transportation and storage.
  • Low production cost.
  • Moderate ignition temperature.


  • A large portion of the energy is wasted.
  • The cost of handling is high, and controlling is also challenging.
  • Ash gratified is high & burn with clinker formation.

2. Liquid Fuel

Most liquid fuels are derived from dead plants and animals’ fossilised remains by contact with heat and pressure in the Earth’s crust. The fumes of the liquid fuel are combustible instead of the liquid.


  • Higher calorific value per unit mass.
  • Burn deprived of ash, clinkers, etc.
  • Controlling the combustion is easier.
  • Transportation more accessible through pipes and stored indefinitely without loss.
  • Loss of energy is comparatively lower.
  • Require less furnace space for combustion.


  • The cost of liquid fuel is much higher, likened to solid fuel.
  • Storage methods are costlier.
  • Greater risk of fire hazards.
  • Special burning equipment required for more well-organized combustion.

3. Gaseous Fuel

Gaseous fuels occur in nature, besides existence manufactured from solid and liquid fuels. Most gaseous fuels compose of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, hydrogen or a mixture of them all.


  • Transportation through pipes is easy.
  • Sparking combustion is easy.
  • They have a higher heat content.
  • Clean after use.
  • It does not require any unique burner technology.


  • Large storage tanks required.
  • As they are highly flammable, the chance for fire hazards are incredibly high, and strict safety measures need to be followed.

Properties of Fuel


Some properties of ideal fuel are:

  • An ideal fuel is readily available.
  • An ideal fuel is cheap.
  • And also, An ideal fuel burns quickly in the air at a moderate rate.
  • It releases a large quantity of energy.
  • And also, it should not leave behind any unwanted substances which can be harmful to us.
  • It should not affect the environment adversely.

Characteristics of Fuel

Not all combustible substances can use for all applications. Although all powers crop heat and light on burning, some make more energy than others.

Besides the amount of energy produced, its choice, whether for domestic or industrial use, also depends upon its cost, efficiency, availability, and the extent of pollution it causes. Two essential characteristics of fuel are its calorific value and efficiency.

The calorific value of a fuel defines as the amount of heat produced in kilojoules when one gram of energy is completely burned.

The unit for representing calorific value is kilojoule (kJ). Calorific value express in kJ/g. In simple terms, the advanced the fuel’s calorific value, the more heat it produces when burned.

Thus, the higher the calorific value of power, the better fuel it is—calorific values of some controls.

  1. Wood pellets – 17(kJ/g)
  2. Coal – 25-33(kJ/g)
  3. Charcoal – 35(kJ/g)
  4. Cow dung cakes – 7(kJ/g)
  5. Coke – 33(kJ/g)
  6. Kerosene – 48(kJ/g)
  7. Petrol – 47(kJ/g)
  8. Biogas – 35-40(kJ/g)
  9. LPG – 50(kJ/g)
  10. Methane – 55(kJ/g)
  11. Hydrogen – 150(kJ/g)

When it is burnt, approximately of the energy produced to give off as waste heat cannot use for cooking or other purposes. It is what affects the efficiency of it. To date, no fuel-burning device is known to exhibit 100% efficiency.

The following are some of the critical characteristics of an ideal fuel:

  • It should take a high calorific value.
  • Its ignition temperature must be low but well above the room temperature. If the explosion temperature is too low, it will no-win situation fire very quickly (which could be dangerous), and if it is very high, the power has to be heated for a long time before it can catch fire.
  • It should have a moderate rate of burning and should release heat in a controlled manner.
  • It should be reasonably cheap and readily available. Fuel may have an actual high calorific value, but it cannot use daily if it is expensive and not readily available.
  • It should be harmless to handle, store, and transport.
  • It should not reason pollution on burning.
  • Let us deliberate some it founded on these characteristics.

1. Hydrogen as Fuel

  • Hydrogen considers the most acceptable as it has the highest calorific value. Hence, it regards as the best fuel.
  • However, as it is highly flammable, its difficulties associated with transport, storage, and handling. It, therefore, use as fuel only where it is necessary (e.g., as rocket fuel).

2. Methane and LPG as Fuel

  • Both methane and LPG have relatively high calorific values. They burn with a smokeless fire and, therefore, do not cause affluence. They are perfect for use as domestic fuels.

3. Petrol and Diesel as Fuel

  • Both petrol and diesel mainly use in automobiles. And also, their main disadvantage it’s limit obtainability. Another disadvantage is that their combustion releases harmful airs into the atmosphere.


It calls fuel to any material that is plausible to release energy once violently oxidizes and exotherm.

Usually, fuel will release energy from its potential state to a usable form, either directly or mechanically, producing waste heat. In other words, they are substances that can burn or that tend to burn.

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