Diesel oil (often called diesel) is a petroleum-based propellant used in engines whose ignition is based on compression instead of spark. The name comes from Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel (1858-1913), a German engineer who invented the diesel engine. Diesel oil consists mainly of hydrocarbons having between 10 and 22 carbon atoms. It usually has a cetantal of at least 45 and is made mostly with petroleum (crude oil) as raw material. Diesel oil is produced on oil refineries from crude oil-based hydrocarbon fractions, also known as "gas oil", "medium distillate" or "petroleum distillate".
Advantages of diesel cars when compared to petrol cars using both fossil fuels are that they have higher efficiency, which means lower fuel consumption. Diesel engines are often heavier built than gasoline engines, which gives the diesel engine a longer service life. Disadvantages are the high emissions of particles, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons. Nitrous oxide releases, among other things, cause asthma attacks and lung function reduction, and contribute to soil damage, harmful ozone formation, eutrophication and acidification. One attempt to address these problems is to use particle filters and catalysts.