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Is Delta Variant Spreading Through Gas / Petrol Pumps?

Is Delta Variant Spreading Through Gas / Petrol Pumps?

Is the Delta variant of COVID-19 now spreading quickly through gas / petrol pumps?

Find out what the FACTS really are, and SHARE this out!

Updated @ 2020-08-05 : Made several small changes and clarifications to the facts.
Originally posted @ 2021-07-30


Claim : Delta Variant Is Spreading Through Gas / Petrol Pumps!

A new message is claiming that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is spreading quickly through gas / petrol pumps.

It advises everyone to wear gloves or use paper towels, while refilling their vehicles at the gas / petrol stations.

The hospital sent a message this morning that this Covid -19 / Delta variant virus appears to be spreading so quickly through petrol pumps that it asked to tell everyone to wear gloves or use paper towels while filling and disposing immediately – please share.

Please send to everyone in your contact list.

* Do not keep this information to yourself. Make it available to all your family and friends

This appears to be the new “Delta variant” of an earlier claim.

Read more : Is COVID-19 Spreading Through Gas / Petrol Pumps?


Delta Variant Is NOT Spreading Through Gas / Petrol Pumps!

When the COVID-19 pandemic first started, gas / petrol pumps were identified as a potential source of COVID-19 spread.

Hence, gas / petrol stations were advised to constantly wipe clean the buttons and handles of the consoles and pumps.

However, this new viral message is simply another FAKE STORY being circulated on social media, and here are the reasons why…

Fact #1 :  Fomite Transmission Is Rare

Early studies show that the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 can persist on surfaces for a long time.

However, later quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) studies show that the risk of getting infected through contact with contaminated surfaces / objects (fomites) is low.

How low? Generally, less than 1 in 10,000 contacts with a contaminated surface will result in a COVID-19 infection.

While not impossible, it is much harder to get infected from touching contaminated surfaces or objects, because you have to touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands to get infected.

That is likely why there have been no COVID-19 clusters attributed to transmission from gas / petrol stations.

Fact #2 :  Delta Variant More Transmissible Through Air

Currently, Delta variant has been shown to be more transmissible by air – within seconds of a close contact.

However, there is no evidence so far that it is more transmissible by touching a contaminated object.

Read more : Delta Variant Can Infect In Seconds : How To Prevent That?

Fact #3 :  It Is Dangerous To Wear Gloves At Gas / Petrol Station!

No matter what social media tells you – you should NEVER wear gloves at a gas / petrol station.

Plastic gloves like what you see in these pictures generate static electricity, and may spark a fire when you refill your car!

Fact #4 :  Latex / Nitrile Gloves May Not Protect You

Some automotive experts are recommending that motorists opt for latex or nitrile gloves, because they will not generate static electricity like plastic gloves.

That is bad advice.

Yes, latex and nitrile gloves will protect your hands from touching contaminated surfaces. But many people actually contaminate themselves while removing their gloves.

Unless you are a healthcare worker who is familiar on how to properly wear and remove rubber / nitrile gloves without contaminating yourself, you should not wear them.

Fact #5 :  COVID-19 Spreads Through People

The SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads through droplets and aerosols from infected people. It does not spread by touch.

Hence, the best policy for gas / petrol stations is to insist that EVERYONE must wear a face mask.

This prevents direct transmission by droplets, and greatly cuts down on aerosols. And best of all – it prevents the gas / petrol pump surfaces from being contaminated!

If everyone wears a face mask, fomites – contaminated surfaces or objects – will be virtually non-existent.

Fact #6 :  You Can’t Get Contaminated If You Sanitise Your Hands!

Instead of worrying so much about getting your hands contaminated with COVID-19, just sanitise them!

If you are super worried, spread alcohol-based hand sanitiser onto the buttons and handle of the gas / petrol pump.

But the key thing is to either wash your hands with soap and water after using the pump, or sanitise them using hand sanitiser (with at least 60% alcohol).

You can’t get COVID-19 from contaminated surfaces if you always keep your hands clean!

This isn’t just my advice, this is what the US CDC recommends too!


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Higher RON Octane Rating Myth Debunked!

People have debated over RON octane ratings and how they affect the performance and fuel efficiency of our cars for decades.

According to the age-old claim, a higher RON octane rating delivers better performance and fuel efficiency.

When challenged to prove that claim, supporters of the higher RON octane rating fuel will point to the fact that high-performance cars use them to achieve better performance.

Are they correct? Let’s find out…


RON / MON Octane Rating : A Quick Primer!

RON is short for Research Octane Number. It is a ROUGH indicator of the maximum compression ratio at which the fuel can burn without spontaneously detonating.

You don’t want your fuel detonating because that damages the engine, while greatly reducing performance and fuel efficiency.

RON is actually just one of TWO octane ratings used to measure the fuel’s ability to withstand spontaneous detonation in the engine. The other one is MON (Motor Octane Number).

The RON rating is based on a low engine load, while the MON rating is based on a high engine load. A fuel’s MON rating can be up to 10 points lower than the RON rating.


Octane Ratings In Asia, Europe And US

In Asia and Europe, the number you see at the petrol stations are RON numbers. In the United States, they use the average of the RON and MON numbers using the formula of (R+M)/2.

In other words, fuel with a RON of 95 and a MON of 85 will be listed as RON 95 in Asia and Europe, but 90 octane in the United States.

This doesn’t mean that the fuel in America is of a lower RON rating or performance. They are the SAME FUEL. It’s just how the SAME octane numbers are reported.

Asia and Europe only use the RON rating, while the Americans use the average between the RON and MON ratings.

American octane ratings | Photo credit : Bobak Ha’Eri, Wikimedia Commons


RON Energy Density

Petrol (or gasoline to Americans) have an energy density (or specific energy content) of about 42.4 MJ/kg. That is how much energy is in the fuel, not how much it delivers.

70-75% of that energy is lost as heat generated during the engine combustion, leaving only 20-30% of that energy to actually move your car.

The energy density does NOT change with the RON or MON octane rating. RON 97 fuel has the SAME energy density as RON 92 fuel.


Energy Density Varies Slightly With Fuel Blend

The energy density, however, can be higher or lower by up to 4%, depending on the fuel blend used by the refinery, and regulations set by the country.

In some countries, the blend changes with the season, yielding slightly better or poorer performance and fuel efficiency with a corresponding increase or reduction in pump prices.

This has nothing to do with the RON or MON octane rating of the fuel, just its blend. You can have a denser fuel blend with a low octane rating, and a lighter fuel blend with a high octane rating.


Higher RON Rating = Better Performance?

If you drive a sports car, it will likely use a high-compression engine. The high compression delivers more power and better fuel efficiency by stuffing more air into the combustion chamber.

However, such high-compression engines require higher octane fuels. Not because they have more power, but because such fuels will not spontaneously detonate from the high compression pressure.

In such sports cars, you will usually find two RON numbers – a minimum octane rating, and an optimal or recommended octane rating. The Audi RS4 Avant, for example, requires a minimum of RON 95 but works best with the RON 98 fuel.

RON ratings for Audi RS4 Avant | Photo credit : GeoffDunk

For maximum power and fuel efficiency, Audi RS4 drivers should use the RON 98 fuel. Using the RON 95 fuel will result in a slight reduction in power and fuel efficiency at high engine loads.

This is NOT because the lower octane fuel is less powerful, but because the RS4 engine will change its timings slightly to prevent the lower octane fuel from spontaneously detonating at high engine load.

The Audi RS4 can actually use even lower RON fuels – as low as RON 91. However, this will result in reduced performance and the car should be driven gently.

Remember that the RON number is based on low engine loads. At higher engine loads, you will need a higher RON rating to avoid engine knocking.

Audi RS4 manual on its fuel octane ratings | Photo credit : scotty76

Not all sports cars require high octane fuels though. This is a popular misconception.

Take the Nissan 370Z, for example. It only requires RON 95 fuel to perform optimally and can run on RON 91 fuel in an emergency. Again, when using RON 91, it should be driven gently to avoid engine knocking.

Most other cars, however, will only list a single octane rating, which is both the octane rating they are tuned for and the minimum octane rating you should use.

You can use higher octane fuels, but you will not derive any performance benefit because the engine is not capable of higher compression ratios that would take advantage of the higher octane.

Unless your car manufacturer specifically tells you to use a higher octane rating, you are just wasting your money buying a higher octane fuel. It will not make your car go any faster.

Next Page > Heavier Fuel Blend, Better Efficiency, Higher Altitudes, Summary


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Heavier Fuel Blend = Better Performance

Now you hit the nail on the head! Higher octane will not give you more power, but a denser fuel blend will.

This is because a heavier fuel blend has a higher energy density – that means every combustion cycle yields more energy.

Fuels with higher octane ratings may use a denser fuel blend, although this is not necessarily the case. It all boils to marketing, because the fuel blend only changes up to 4% either way.

That’s a maximum variance of 8%. Generally, the variance is much smaller. Take a look at these BP fuel energy density figures, courtesy of Car Bibles :

Fuel GradeEnergy DensityDifference
BP Regular32.53 MJ/LBaseline
BP Premium33.08 MJ/L+ 1.7%
BP Ultimate33.28 MJ/L+ 2.3%

Even the most expensive BP fuel has a mere 2.3% boost in energy density over its cheapest regular fuel. Even that has limited effect because remember, 70-75% of the energy is lost as heat.

So what you would probably get from using BP Ultimate is a 0.7% boost in power (30% of the 2.3% higher energy density).

A heavier fuel blend, therefore, is mainly a marketing gimmick. By using a heavier blend, companies get to honestly tout better performance for their higher octane fuels, which have much higher profit margins.

You will undoubtedly enjoy better performance, just not as much as you think you are getting.


Higher RON / MON Rating = Better Fuel Efficiency?

The short answer is – NO. As we pointed out before, the RON / MON octane rating of a fuel is not an indication of how much energy is in it (energy density), or how efficiently it will burn in the engine.

The RON / MON octane rating only indicates how resistant the fuel is to spontaneous detonation when it’s being compressed in the engine’s combustion chamber.

That said, we must point out that the use of fuels with the proper RON / MON octane rating is critical in preventing your car from suffering from poor performance and fuel efficiency.

If you use a lower RON octane rating than is recommended by the car manufacturer, engine knocking may occur. The modern engine will detect that and retard the ignition timings to prevent or reduce the amount of engine knocking. Take a look at this excerpt from a Porsche manual.

However, retarding the ignition timing reduces power and fuel efficiency. How much you lose in power and fuel efficiency depends on how much knocking occurs and how much the timing changes to compensate.

Generally, the greater the discrepancy in RON octane rating and the harder you work the engine, the more you lose in power and fuel efficiency.

In other words, there is no benefit in using a higher octane fuel, but it pays to keep to the car manufacturer’s recommended octane rating.


Higher RON Octane Rating For Higher Altitudes

A fuel’s RON octane rating is affected by atmospheric pressure. It actually drops by 1 for every 600 m or 2,000 ft in elevation.

Many people ignore this because they don’t live in high altitude communities, but this can make a real difference in performance and fuel efficiency for those who do.

La Paz in Bolivia, for example, is 3,640 m (11,942 ft) above sea level. If your car uses RON 95 fuel and you pump it full of RON 95 fuel at sea level, your car’s power and fuel efficiency will drop as you near La Paz.

That RON 95 fuel you pumped at sea level would only have an octane rating of RON 89 in La Paz.

By the time you reach La Paz, your car would really be running on RON 89 fuel, and the engine would be retarding its ignition timing to compensate for the lower atmospheric pressure.


Higher RON Octane Rating Myth : A Summary

Before you decide if you really need a fuel with a certain RON octane rating, please take out that nicely-printed manual that came with your car and open it up. Look for the page that talks about its fuel recommendation and READ IT.

Note what it says about the car’s minimum and recommended RON octane rating. If only one octane rating is mentioned, consider that as both the minimum and recommended rating for your car.

  • You will achieve maximum performance and fuel efficiency if you use fuels that meet the recommended RON octane rating for your car.
  • Using fuels with higher RON octane ratings won’t harm your car, but it won’t give you any additional benefits either.
  • Using fuels with RON octane ratings that are between the minimum and recommended ratings for your car will give you optimal performance and fuel efficiency at low to normal loads, but will not achieve the engine’s full potential in performance and fuel efficiency at high loads.
  • Using fuels with RON octane ratings that are lower than the minimum rating for your car will reduce power and fuel efficiency.
  • Altitude matters, so make sure you use fuels with higher RON / MON octane ratings at higher elevations.

We hope this article will finally put to rest the myth that a higher RON / MON octane rating means better performance and fuel efficiency.

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