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.
Alas, with the total focus on clean emissions in the late ´60s-early ´70s, fuel mileage was completely overlooked, with the result that experimental steam cars of that era got worse fuel mileage than comparable gas cars.
For every 10% ethanol added to the fuel, a mileage loss of 3% should be expected.
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