Oxygenated chemical compounds are hydrocarbons which contain at least one oxygen atom as a part of their chemical structure. The term often refers to oxygenated chemical compounds added to fuels. Oxygenates are usually employed as gasoline additives to reduce carbon monoxide and soot that is created during the burning of the fuel. Compounds related to soot, such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and nitrated PAHs, are also reduced.[1]

The most common oxygenates are either alcohols or ethers.

In the United States

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In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had authority to mandate that minimum proportions of oxygenates be added to automotive gasoline on regional and seasonal basis from 1992 until 2006 in an attempt to reduce air pollution, in particular ground-level ozone and smog. As of 2023, the EPA continues to require the use of oxygenated gasoline in certain areas during winter to regulate carbon monoxide emissions; however, the programs to fulfill its conditions are implemented by the states. In addition to this North American automakers from 2006 onwards promoted a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, marketed as E85, and their flex-fuel vehicles, e.g. GM's Live Green, Go Yellow campaign. US Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards give an artificial 54% fuel efficiency bonus to vehicles capable of running on 85% alcohol blends over vehicles not adapted to run on 85% alcohol blends.[2] There is also alcohols' intrinsically cleaner combustion, however due to its lower energy density it is not capable of producing as much energy per gallon as gasoline. Much gasoline[citation needed] sold in the United States is blended with up to 10% of an oxygenating agent. This is known as oxygenated fuel and often (but not entirely correctly, as there are reformulated gasolines without oxygenate) as reformulated gasoline. Methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) was the most common fuel additive in the United States, prior to government mandated use of ethanol. Typically, gasoline with added MTBE is called reformulated gasoline, while gasoline with ethanol is called oxygenated gasoline.[3]


  1. ^ Inal, Fikret; Senkan, Selim M. (2002). "Effects of oxygenate additives on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons(pahs) and soot formation". Combustion Science and Technology. 174 (9): 1–19. CiteSeerX doi:10.1080/00102200290021353. S2CID 56015797.
  2. ^ "Code of Federal Regulations, title 40, part 600, section 600.510-93". United States Government Printing Office. 1 August 2005.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Lidderdale, Tancred (6 March 2000). "MTBE, Oxygenates, and Motor Gasoline" (PDF). Energy Information Administration.