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Volatile organic compounds are also emitted into the atmosphere through evaporation from fuel tanks, carburetors and refuelling stations.These emissions can be reduced by using carbon canisters containing activated charcoal which absorbs these vapours.Other petroleum derivatives including diesel and liquid petroleum gas can be used in motor vehicles as alternatives to petrol as can compressed natural gas, which often occurs in conjunction with petroleum deposits.Some alternatives are derived from non-fossil, or partly renewable, sources such as grain or other agricultural crops.Higher octane fuels are less susceptible to detonation and thus prevent engine knock and in turn maintain engine power.

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Petrol's can vary considerably in composition, depending upon the source of the original crude oil, and the processes used in production.From 1913, thermal cracking was used to increase petrol production.Substances known as 'catalysts' were later found to do a better job of cracking hydrocarbons than heat alone, by speeding up the reaction and producing a greater yield of higher octane petrol. It is essentially a complex mixture of hydrocarbons that boils below 180o C.This in turn requires that the petrol be lead free if the catalyst is to function properly.In Australia this resulted in a decision to change to cars which operate on unleaded petrol with a lower octane than previously used, so that changes to refinery configurations, to make up for the octane loss upon the removal of the lead, would not be too extensive.

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