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What the world expects of Biden



US re-entering the Paris Agreement on Climate Change:

By Dr Janaka Ratnasiri

At the outset, let me congratulate President-Elect (PE) Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris (KH) on their historic win at the recent Presidential election. PE Biden made history by receiving the highest ever number of popular votes in any presidential election, while KH made history by being the first woman to be elected as the US Vice President, particularly with South Indian and West Indies parentage. It was reported in media that PE Biden had stated that one of the first initiatives he would take as President of USA would be to re-enter the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (PACC) from which the US withdrew after President Donald Trump assumed office in 2017. The purpose of this write-up is to highlight the implications of the US withdrawal from the PACC and its re-entry.



The nations adopted the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the UN Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 to adopt collective measures to arrest the global warming caused by uncontrolled emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) and, thereby, avoid any long-term climate change having many adverse impacts globally. In the UNFCCC, countries are divided into three groups, the first numbering 36 as listed in Annex I to the UNFCCC document, comprising developed countries as well as countries with transition economies (mostly Eastern European countries), the second numbering 25 comprising developed countries as listed in Annex II and the third comprising developing countries referred to as Non-Annex I counties.

The division into Annex I and Non-Annex I Parties was based on the Parties’ per capita emissions rather than on the total emissions, which are high in Annex I Parties than in Non-Annex I Parties. The UNFCCC requires the Annex I Parties comprising developed countries to take the lead in combatting climate change and its adverse effects, and to reduce their emissions back to 1990 levels by the year 2000 through voluntary measures. Non-Annex I Parties comprising developing countries are required only to take climate change considerations into account, to the extent feasible, when formulating their social, economic and environmental policies, and employ measures with a view to mitigate or to adapt to climate change.

The UNFCCC also requires all parties to submit periodic national communications (NC) incorporating GHG inventories of sources and sinks, and description of measures taken towards mitigation and adaptation as well as information on training, research, capacity building and public awareness programmes on climate change. Annex I Parties are required to submit their NCs regularly while Non-Annex I Parties are required to submit their NCs as and when funds are made available for that purpose. Sri Lanka has submitted only two NCs so far, the Initial NC in 2000 and the second NC in 2011. The third NC is under preparation beginning 2016 and is expected to be finalized in 2020, for which the Global Environment Fund contributed USD 654,300 (UNDP Website). The Ministry of Environment is the National Focal Point for UNFCCC in Sri Lanka responsible for preparing the NCs.



With growing evidence of climate change coming from all parts of the globe by way of increased frequency of extreme climatic events such as floods, droughts, heavy storms; increasing rates of glacier melting; change of rainfall patterns and a significant increase in global average temperature in recent years, and recognizing that the commitment for developed countries to reduce their emission levels back to 1990 levels is insufficient, prompted the Parties to UNFCCC to adopt the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change (KPCC) in 1997 which made it mandatory for Annex I Parties to reduce their GHG emissions to levels below their 1990 levels. Each country was assigned a specific reduction commitment to be achieved within the 5-year period of 2008-2012 below their 1990 levels of emissions, with an average reduction commitment of 5%.

During the 5-year period 2008-2012, many countries, particularly the European countries, were successful in reducing their emissions as required. It is noteworthy that several industrialized developing countries such as China, India and Brazil categorized as Non-Annex I Parties are exempted from any emission reduction commitments because they have low per capita emissions, while at the same time, they emit high overall amounts of GHGs. This was a thorny issue not acceptable to countries like USA, Canada and Japan who wanted these high emitting countries also to undertake reduction commitments, which countries like China and India vehemently opposed. This dispute resulted in these developed countries withdrawing from the KPCC.



At the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) held in Copenhagen in 2009, UNFCCC was due to decide on the terms of extension of KPCC beyond 2012 and several proposals were in the agenda. Several developed countries including those in the European Union were willing to undertake enhanced reductions. A committee comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) was appointed to work out the details and present its recommendations to the Plenary. They had almost finalized a scheme recommending enhanced mandatory commitments to be undertaken by developed countries during the 5-year period 2013-2017 by closing time of the last day of the conference.

However, at the 11th hour, in an unprecedented move, USA President Barack Obama barged into the closed room where the BRICS committee meeting was held and made an intervention, which no one else would dared to have done. He announced that USA would pledge to get developed countries to mobilize funds to the extent of USD 100 billion a year by 2020 to finance projects in developing countries that would reduce their emissions. Trusting President Obama’s word, both China and India changed their stance hitherto held and agreed to undertake voluntary reduction commitments.

President Obama took a step further and proposed that even the developed countries should undertake only voluntary emission reductions rather than mandatory reductions as decided by KPCC. Surprisingly, the BRICS committee agreed to this proposal without raising any objection. He emphasized that developed countries should be left to decide to what extent they should reduce carbon emissions without being prompted by the KPCC. It may be noted that Annex I Parties had collectively reduced GHG emissions from fossil fuel burning from 30,950 MtCO2Eq in 1990 to 25,647 MtCO2Eq in 2018, a 17.1% reduction, with 11 Parties non-complying (UNFCCC website).

The intervention made by President Obama was tabled at the Plenary where it was taken note of, but was incorporated into the COP15 report which said that “developed countries commit to a goal of mobilizing jointly USD 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. This funding will come from a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance. A significant portion of such funding should flow through the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund (GCF) to be established”. This arrangement was referred to as the Copenhagen Accord (CA). It was further decided that the modality of implementation of this Accord should be completed by 2015.



With the proposal made at COP15 in 2009, UNFCCC took 6 years of negotiations for a consensus to be reached on the modality of implementing the CA. Finally, a decision was made in this regard at COP21 held in Paris in 2015, resulting in the adoption of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (PACC). This incorporated the mandate given in the CA for undertaking voluntary emission reductions applicable to all countries. Developing countries agreed for undertaking these commitments on the understanding that they would receive adequate financial assistance for implementing projects that would reduce their emissions. This was clearly evident from speeches made by Heads of States at the Paris conference including Sri Lanka’s.

The key aim of PACC is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise within this century well below 2 degrees Celsius (C) above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5o C. To reach this goal, appropriate financial flows, a new technology framework and an enhanced capacity building framework are expected to be put in place, thus supporting action by developing countries, in line with their own national objectives.

During the COP21, many heads of states made pledges for providing finances during 2016-2020, totaling USD 48 billion. Among the key contributors are Japan (USD 10B), EU (USD 11B), UK (USD 8.7B), France (USD 6.6B), Italy (USD 4 B) and USA (USD 4B) (Ref: UNFCCC website). It is noteworthy that USA which spearhead the abolition of mandatory emission reductions by developed countries and getting developing countries on board with them on the promise of mobilizing USD 100 billion annually by 2020, pledged only a paltry USD 4 billion contributions up to 2020. However, according to UNFCCC website, the actual amount received from USA to date amounted to only USD 1 billion.

In addition, several multilateral banks operating in Asia, Africa and globally pledged finances up to USD 160 billion by 2020. In addition, the European Investment Bank provided €3 billion in climate finance to developing countries in 2018. To date, the GCF is supporting 143 projects in countries in Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia-Pacific covering mitigation, adaptation and cross-cutting sectors, for which USD 21 billion has been allocated. However, the actual amount collected to date is only USD 10 billion (GCF Website).



President Donald Trump who assumed duties in January 1917 felt that the PACC is disadvantageous to USA bringing benefits to other countries at the expense of American tax payers. He said this in a press briefing held at the White House Rose Garden on 01.06.2017. He further said that Americans stand to lose over 2.5 million jobs by 2025, reduced wages, shuttered factories affecting the economy badly if USA stayed in the PACC. He also said that under the PACC, China and India will be allowed to build more coal power plants while USA is debarred from building any, and that USA’s vast energy resources will have to be kept under lock and key without being able to generate employment for people in exploiting these resources.

One assertion made by President Trump was that no one knows where the money collected from developed countries go to. The Green Climate Fund’s website lists exactly 143 projects that are underway in Non-Annex I countries. The total amounts for each are listed, along with the anticipated benefits. It is obvious that President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the PACC is based on misinformation which probably would have been provided by his advisers.

President Obama, on the other hand, said at the COP21 meeting where the PACC was adopted that USA had taken many initiatives to reduce carbon emissions including building many renewable energy projects such as wind and solar energy plants, adopting energy efficiency systems and introducing standards on power plant emissions and phasing out fossil fuel use, and that these activities have created a large number of new employment opportunities while at the same time keeping the environment clean.

Though President Trump wanted to withdraw from the PACC with immediate effect as announced at the press briefing held in June 2017, the official notification of withdrawal was submitted to the UNFCCC Secretariat only on 04.11.2019. As such, the withdrawal took effect only on 04.11.2020, as per PACC provisions. On this occasion, Chile, France, Italy, UK and UN Climate Change issued the following joint statement on 04.11.2020.

“On 12 December we will be celebrating the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement. We must ensure that it is implemented in full. We note with regret that the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement has formally come into effect today. As we look towards COP26 in Glasgow, we remain committed to working with all US stakeholders and partners around the world to accelerate climate action, and with all signatories to ensure the full implementation of the Paris Agreement” (UNFCCC website).



The international community would welcome the decision made by PE Biden to re-enter the Paris Agreement. He should be conscious of the fact that the entire group of developing countries gave their consent to undertake emission reductions placing trust on President Obama’s assurance that he would mobilize USD 100 billion annually up to 2020 to meet the costs incurred by them in undertaking projects that will reduce carbon emissions.

If this pledge is kept, by now there should be USD 500 billion collected in climate funds, but the amount collected so far does not come anywhere close to this figure as described before. With President Trump withdrawing from the PACC, all these developing countries who undertook commitments were left high and dry. PE Biden will therefore have to take off from where President Obama left for collecting funds for climate financing. To honour the pledge given by President Obama, PE Biden has an obligation to make a substantial contribution towards the climate fund from USA sources including the private sector.

Even within USA, emission reduction targets made by President Obama set in 2009 in Copenhagen, as announced in his speech made at COP21 meeting, that USA will reduce its carbon emissions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 has not been kept. According to GHG emission data on fossil fuel burning posted in the UNFCCC website, the reduction between 2005 value of 7,392 MtCO2Eq and 2018 value of 6,676 MtCO2Eq (the latest available) is only 9.67% which is far below the target. Though he has set a new target of 26 – 28 % reduction below 2005 levels by 2025, it is unlikely this target would be met, unless PE Biden makes a concerted effort to enhance the emission reductions.



Biden’s decision to re-enter the PACC and continue its original financial commitments will certainly restore the confidence the developing countries had in the US as a leading partner in making the planet Earth a safe place for the future generations. People should be able to live without fear of adverse impacts of climate change such as flooding, land-slides, draughts and sea level rise inundating low-lying coastal habitats. These impacts are felt in all countries irrespective whether they are developed or developing, but the developing countries lack the adaptive capacity to meet the adverse impacts.

The international community looks forward to seeing Biden take initiatives to fulfill the commitments made by the US and expects him to meet these commitments pledged by President Obama in encourage the developing countries to undertake reduction commitments. The US could also demonstrate its commitment to prosperity of nations while ensuring rights of people to live in peace by removing unjust trade sanctions imposed on countries having different ideologies. Biden could bring about a change and make history.

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An air of discontent prevails



We have had a series of “Avurudhu parties” here in Aotearoa. No shortage of Kavum, Kokis, Athiraha, and even Wali Thalapa. Buffalo curd available locally and of course imported treacle in abundance. Yours truly has assumed the role of a fly on the wall during these festivities and gleaned much information, worth talking about.

First to get on to the Pearl, the talk of the botched-up vaccination plan and running out of the second dose of vaccine. Bizarre permutations as to what would happen if the second dose was not available on time and to who would be press-ganged into getting the “dodgier” types of vaccine from China and Russia, etc. The possible repercussions of getting a second dose of another type of vaccine to the original, the speculations of which left me rather glad that the general populace of Aotearoa has not been vaccinated to date. The talk moved on to the Easter bombings and the recent comments by leaders of the Roman Catholic church as to the possible perpetrators of the attack. Some increasingly obvious conclusions as to those responsible for the planning and funding of same are being reached by those other than some of us who dared to voice our opinions over a year ago! This combined with the increasing and very rapid unpopularity of the person they elected to high office hoping he was genie of the magic lamp type, and the possible reverse of Hong Kong that could take shape on the reclaimed land near the Colombo port, does not bode well for an already dubious future. By reverse of Hong Kong, I mean Hong Kong is trying to hold out as a bastion for democracy, whilst the proposed port city seems to be modeled on the opposite!

Moving on to Aotearoa, the rest of the world seems to be praying for a leader such as our own Jacinda Ardern, but the fat cats of Aotearoa are getting rather sick of her. Those who own multiple houses and have been setting off their interest payments against their taxes due to a loophole in the law that has now been plugged are grumbling. The fact that most young people can’t afford to buy their first houses due to rich people and property developers snapping up all available property, happily funded by banks who are only interested in the bottom line, is of no consequence to them. The fact that this could lead to so much discontent that it could even lead to armed insurrection doesn’t bother them. They seem to have forgotten that we have had almost no deaths and hardly any Covid 19 cases in our community when they say that the lockdowns, we underwent were too excessive and how the economy and business sector has suffered. These very people throng the stadia during the rugby and cricket games and enjoy music concerts with gay abandon. Megacorporations are not happy about the restrictions that are coming on with regard to the use of Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) due to environmental concerns. To top it all off I had a lecture from my 13-year-old daughter about how I am being “led by the nose” by Jacinda Ardern and her propaganda! Where she got that from could only be from her elder brothers whose get rich quick schemes have seen a setback due to certain leftist policies coming in from the Labour government that is in power with an absolute majority.

I laugh to myself and think about other examples I have seen of self-proclaimed pundits never being content with their lot. My education was in a very large Government school. As a perfect and a member of some sports teams we handled the administration and some of the governance of this school. Later in life when my children were attending a private school I got involved in the Executive committee of the PTA of that school. The “problems” faced by the private school and the vast dramas that were involved in trying to solve those problems were laughable when compared to those faced by even us, senior students (a much lower level in the administration) of the Government school.

It led me to believe that people always grumble. They are never content with their lot and there is always someone plugging their case and trying to sow the seeds of discontent among the populace. If those living in Aotearoa, in the present situation and well aware of the chaos and mayhem that is prevailing in the rest of the world are dissatisfied, when will anyone be satisfied? Everything is relative and one should try to step outside the confines of one’s own situation and look at the broad picture. In the words of learned barristers, I rest my case!

This week’s missive will not be complete without a tribute to the memory of Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh. He lived through some of the best and worst times of human existence on this planet and conducted himself impeccably. He showed his humanity and his failings, with a few bloopers down the line but most of those had an undercurrent of humor and couldn’t really be construed as offensive, despite the best efforts of the media and others to make them so. He served as consort to her Majesty the Queen with loyalty and aplomb and he leaves behind an enviable legacy in the world of conservation and youth affairs. It is hoped that his heirs will be up to the task for they face a task which in cricketing terms could be classed as coming into bat after the great Sir Vivian Richards had just scored a century, in his prime. Something very difficult to surpass in skill and entertainment value. Unfortunately, the Duke made just 99. May he rest in peace!


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We have much to learn; and emulation is no disgrace



“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.” said Oscar Wilde who, through sharply ironic wit, often proclaimed the absolute truth.

Cassandra quotes him today as she wants to point out how much we in Sri Lanka can benefit by reaping some ideas from the recent royal funeral in Windsor. And she does not excuse herself for placing stress on our mediocrity as juxtaposed with greatness. Nationalists may shout themselves hoarse and bring down a few more majestic trees by decrying the comparison. They can justifiably claim we have a cultural heritage of two and a half millennia but have we remained cultured, following faithfully and correctly the four great religions of the world? A loud NO from Cass, echoed by millions of others. Though Britain’s development of the English language, culture, arts and science was later than our civilization, they outstripped all countries at one time and are again elevated, while we are poised on bankruptcy, with the begging bowl in hand and thugs and thieves as legislators. We in Sri Lanka are mediocre if not degraded against the greatness shown by the Brits in many spheres. This is no Anglophile speaking but a dame who was born when the Brits were leaving us to govern ourselves and grew up with our statesmen doing a jolly good job of it; Sinhalese, Tamil, Burgher, and a few Muslims taking the lead graciously and effectively with complete honesty, to serve the people. They maintained and improved our country so it was admired by others and even some desiring to imitate Ceylon as Singapore’s Lee Kwan Yew admitted. And where are we now? Except the Rajapaksa family from Medamulana, wearing rose tinted glasses or with eyes shut by arrogance, and their followers and throngs of sycophants, others see our country and our people for what it, and the people, really are. No need to elaborate.


The funeral of Prince Philip juxtaposed against customs here

The low-key funeral observing all Covid-19 restrictions was noteworthy for being utterly devoid of bombast and vainglory. It was dignified and moving. Cass wonders how many of her readers watched the funeral on Saturday 17, late evening here. Prince Philip had detailed all arrangements from the Navy being prominent and other Forces joining in plus the substitution of the gun carriage with a jeep he had helped design. The horse carriage he was adept at racing was stationed close by the entrance to the chapel. He has bequeathed it to the daughter of his youngest son and Sophie; the Wessexes having been very close to him and the Queen.

The entire proceedings proved first and foremost that the royal family observed strict pandemic restrictions like mask wearing and physical distancing. There was no one rule for them and another rule for us, thus proving beyond doubt that England (usually), and more so the Royal Family (definitely) are a country and an institution despising double standards. The monarch decreed and abided by the same regulations that have restricted everyone else in the UK, sharing their fate. An anecdote is relevant here. The Queen learned that lesson long ago. She was 14 when her mother said, after Buckingham Palace was bombed in September 1940, that she “could look the East End in the face now.”

Do all our people follow rules common to everyone? Oh! My heavens NO! There are differentiations according to layers in society. Shangri La would host a party for a hundred when only 30 are allowed to gather. During the height of the first wave when restrictions were strict, SLPP electioneering saw hordes thrust together and baby carrying, patting heads and hand clasping mostly by Mahinda Rajapaksha sans a mask. He has a charismatic bond with the masses but that needed to be curbed. Sajith Premadasa’s meetings were strict on physical distancing and mask wearing.

Only 30 were invited to the extremely solemn and yes, beautiful funeral service at Windsor Chapel. This meant eliminating even close relatives of the Family; but it was done. The Queen sat distanced from her daughter and sons and their spouses. Her now diminutive figure seated alone emphasized the loneliness she must be feeling after a close and successful marriage of 73 years.

This brings to mind our First Ladies. Cass steps out bravely to say that Elina Jayewardene was a gracious lady of restraint and dignity, the only perfect consort so far. Cass remembers Hema Premadasa beating her breast (true) and crying over the coffin of her late husband’s remains – in the true sense of the word – at the Prez’s funeral at Independence Square. There is dignity in restraint of even tears over a death in public. Among the women Heads of the country, the mother completely beat the daughter in dignity and ability.

We Sri Lankan women are now much more restrained in our mourning at funerals. Time was when widows even hoarsely wailed their sorrow, coiled and roiled with grief, and begged the dear departed “To look once more; say one word.” Cass in all the expressed grief of such funerals suppressed her laughter with difficulty. How would it be if the corpse obliged?

The choir at the funeral of Prince Philip was just four – one woman and three men. But their singing resounded in the high vaulted, completely majestic, centuries old church. The lone kilted piper within the Chapel evoked much. The service itself was short, just a Reading, prayers and listing of the multitude of honours bestowed on the Duke of Edinburgh, whose medals and decorations were on display beside the alter. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Dean of Windsor, David Conner conducted the service.

To conclude, the Duke of Edinburgh had advised and laid stipulations on a simple funeral with the necessary pomp and pageantry but low key and very unostentatious. The actual funeral was even more low-key with mourners requested not to be on the streets or place flowers. The latter they did in all the residencies of the Royal Family in appreciation of a man who faithfully stood by the Queen and in his own way gave service to the nation.

Coming back to Free Sri Lanka, we seem to stress on that first word Cass inserted to the country name, even in these dire times of no crowds. And the worst is milling crowds are apparently encouraged to boost popularity of certain VVIPs by sycophants and by the preference/orders of the VVIP himself.

Consider the funeral of Minister Thondaman: crowds in Colombo and all VIPs wishing to register their presence before the body, and then the commotion at the actual cremation Up Country. Consider this year’s Sinhala New Year celebrations which were very dignified at the President’s residence but were inclusive of all traditions and a large gathering in the PM’s home, even raban playing by the Second Lady, and milling crowds outside.


Roller coaster ride of the country continues

Cass is relieved she had a topic to write on; namely that we should emulate the manner in which the much admired Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral was conducted, abiding by his stricture of it being low key and the country’s Covid restrictions. Our leaders especially must accept the saying I quoted at the beginning.

The country continues its roller coaster bumpy ride with some crying out the country is being sold to the Chinese, we will be a colony of theirs after they occupy the Port City; and others in remote areas sitting down for days on end, some near 100 days, drawing attention to the human elephant conflict. Much is touted about the Bill relating to the rules to govern the Port City.

Cassandra listens to all, and is somewhat warned and frightened, but cannot comment. However, one matter she speaks about loud and clear. The people must be told the status quo of the pandemic – daily numbers catching the infection and numbers dying. This is not for interest sake or ghoulish appetites; but to know how things are so we relax a wee bit or shut in more stringently. The Covid-19 Task Force, or the Health High Ups (not Pavithra please) should tell the country of the true situ of the pandemic as it holds the country in its grip. We want to know whether the grip is tightening or weakening. Please give us daily statistics. This newspaper announces total numbers. No help. Are we expected to jot down figures, subtract, and give ourselves daily infection and death statistics? No! It goes to prove that other matters – political slanted, ego boosting and economics – are more important than warning, containing the pandemic, and saving lives.

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Do you pump Octane 95 Petrol to your car to get better performance?



If your answer is YES, this article is for you

Dr. Saliya Jayasekara.

Senior Lecturer Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of Moratuwa

Many passenger vehicles, including three-wheelers and motorcycles are fueled by octane 95 gasoline when octane 92 gasoline (petrol) is available at a lower price. 

Otto engine (petrol engine) is an internal combustion spark ignition engine invented by a German engineer Nicolaus Otto in 1876 and used in most of the light weight vehicles including cars, three wheelers and motor bicycles. Otto engines can burn most of the hydrocarbon fuels (including hydrogen and ethanol) that can mix with air by evaporation (low boiling point). But the combustion characteristics of different hydrocarbons are not the same when burned inside an engine. If an Otto engine is designed for a particular fuel, it would not perform similarly with a fuel that has a different chemical composition.

In a well-tuned Otto engine run on gasoline for which the engine is designed, the combustion of the gasoline (petrol) / air mixture will continue smoothly from the spark plug to the piston head by igniting successive layers of the mixture as shown in Figure 1 (a).

If low grade gasolines are used, the combustion of some of the air/ fuel mixture in the cylinder does not result from propagation of the flame front initiated by the spark plug, but one or more pockets of air/fuel mixture explode (Detonate) outside the envelope of the normal combustion front as shown in Figure 1 (b). This detonation can cause severe damage to the piston and the head of the engine while deteriorating thermal performance of the engine (low efficiency)

Gasoline is a petroleum-derived product comprising a mixture of different hydrocarbons ranging from 4 to 12 carbon atoms in a carbon chain with the boiling point ranging of 30–225°C. It is predominantly a mixture of paraffins, naphthenes, aromatics and olefins. Additives and blending agents are added to improve the performance and stability of gasoline. The engine designers learned that straight-chain paraffin have a much higher tendency to detonate than do branched-chain paraffin.

The tendency of a particular gasoline to detonate is expressed by its octane number (ON). Arbitrarily, tri-methyl-pentane, C8H18 (iso-octane) is assigned an ON of 100, while the straight-chain paraffin n-heptane, C7H16 is given an ON of zero. Hence, a fuel sample with the same anti-detonation quality as that of a mixture containing 90% iso-octane and 10% n-heptane is said to have an ON of 90. Gasoline is made up of a mixture of mostly branched-chain paraffin with suitable additives to give an ON in the range 90 –100. It was also learned through experiments that the ON of a gasoline blends (e.g. gasoline and ethanol) can be calculated by using weighted average ON of each compound. Most importantly, the octane number has nothing to do with the heating value (Calorific value) or the purity of the fuel.

Engine thermodynamics show that engines with a high compression ratio offer higher thermal performance than engines with a low compression ratio. These engines having high compression ratio require high octane gasoline (for example octane 95) to avoid detonation. However, using gasoline having higher octane ratings for the engines designed for a low octane rating (for example, 92 octane) would not provide an additional benefit or loss, other than increased fuel cost.

Therefore, it is important to know the designed octane number of the engine before fueling (refer owner’s manual of the vehicle). For example: the minimum ON requirement for two and three wheelers in south Asia is 87 (The World Bank). Most of the Toyota, Honda and Nissan models including hybrid engines recommend 92 octane gasoline.

Dr. Saliya Jayasekara received the B. Sc. degree in mechanical engineering from university of Moratuwa in 2001, and the M.Sc. and PhD degrees in decentralized power generation systems from Royal institute of technology Sweden and the Melbourne University Australia in 2004 and 2013 respectively. He has well over 13 years of national and international experience in design and installation of centralised/decentralised power plants, boilers (utility/package) and heat exchangers. Currently he is serving as a senior lecture at University of Moratuwa, a visiting lecturer and fellow at Deakin University Australia.

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