This index is essentially the opposite of the octane rating, where a high octane fuel resists spontaneous ignition, and therefore does not tend to ´knock.´ The cetane number of 100 was arbitrarily assigned to ´cetane´ or n-hexadecane, a straight-chain aliphatic chemical compound that burns very well, in the single-cylinder test diesel engine.
The use of cetane improver also helps to maintain acceptable fuel mileage.
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