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 cetane number is perhaps the characteristic most associated with premium diesel fuel, as an analogy to premium gasoline with higher octane ratings.
The use of cetane improver also helps to maintain acceptable fuel mileage.
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