What Color Is Diesel Fuel?

Written on: May 6, 2024

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diesel fuel Poughkeepsie, NY Diesel powers our trucks, ships, and generators. It keeps industries humming and products moving. For professionals in the fuel industry, diesel fuel is not just a commodity but a critical working part of our everyday lives.

While we might not often think about it, diesel fuel is notably, color-coded – a feature that sparks curiosity for many outside the fuel industry. Let’s explore why diesel is the color it is, dispelling common myths along the way, and also examine the role of color in ensuring the safety and quality of diesel, as well as peeking into the potential future of diesel hues.

The basics on diesel fuel

Diesel fuel is the lubricant in the engines that power much of the modern industrial and transportation sectors. Derived from crude oil, diesel is a middle-weight product with lower volatility compared to gasoline. It’s known for its efficiency in delivering torque and energy, thus making it the obvious choice for heavy-duty machinery and long-haul transport vehicles.

One of the essential characteristics of diesel is its density, which distinguishes it from other fuels like gasoline and kerosene. This property allows diesel to be less flammable than lighter fuels but still highly combustible under pressure, which is crucial for its intended use.

Why Is diesel fuel colored?

The coloring of diesel fuel isn’t just for show—it’s a crucial component of the fuel’s identity and enforcement of the regulatory, practical, and safety considerations inherent in the supply chain and use of diesel. Here’s why diesel comes in different colors.

The primary purpose of coloring diesel fuel is to indicate its tax status and differentiate it from untaxed fuels, such as off-road diesel. By law, the fuels must be colored, typically red, to signify that they are not subject to typical road taxes.

What do the diesel colors mean?

Un-dyed diesel: Diesel that is not dyed is for vehicles used on the road, such as cars, vans, and transport trucks. Because these vehicles are used on roads, un-dyed diesel is subject to the federal excise tax.

Red diesel: Typically used in off-road machinery, red diesel is dyed red to signify its tax-exempt status. Farmers, construction workers, and many others rely on red diesel to power the machinery they use away from public highways. Being caught using red, or off-road, diesel in vehicles used on public roads can lead to stiff fines for trying to evade the excise tax. In New York, the penalty is $10 per gallon of $1,000 per violation.

Blue diesel: Blue-dyed diesel is functionally equivalent to red-dyed diesel, with the distinction that it is exclusively utilized for U.S. Government vehicles. It is not accessible to the general public.

Green diesel: In some parts of the world, green diesel is used as a biodiesel or a road fuel, typically with some biodiesel component, as part of sustainability initiatives. The green color is sometimes faint and used as a marketing and consumer education tool to signify the fuel’s eco-friendly nature.

It’s important to note that the color of the dye does not change the fuel’s fundamental properties. Red diesel, for example, has the same chemical composition as regular diesel, except for the difference in fuel taxes it entails.

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