Avgas is used in small piston engine powered aircraft within the General Aviation community. Predominately activities such as private pilots, flight training, flying clubs and crop spraying. Piston engines operate using the same basic principles as spark ignition engines of cars, but they have a much higher performance requirement.
In today's General Aviation community there are only two main Avgas grades (100 and 100LL low lead) - a rationalisation that has enabled fuel companies to continue supplying a market that would otherwise have become uneconomic. Worldwide, total Avgas volumes are low, since Avgas-fuelled aircraft, although they outnumber jet-fuelled aircraft, are generally much smaller.
Summary of Avgas grades
The standard high octane fuel for aviation piston engines. It has a high lead content and is dyed green. There are two major specifications for Avgas 100. The ASTM D 910 and UK DEF STAN 91-90. These two specifications are essentially the same but differ over antioxidant content, oxidation stability requirements and max lead content.
This grade is the low lead version of Avgas 100. Low lead is a relative term. There is still up to 0.56 g/litre of lead in Avgas 100LL. This grade is listed in the same specifications as Avgas 100, namely ASTM D 910 and UK DEF STAN 91-90.
Avgas 100LL is dyed blue.
To read more about the fuel, download its MSDS now.
History of AVGAS Grades
Avgas is gasoline fuel for reciprocating piston engined aircraft. As with all gasolines, avgas is very volatile and is extremely flammable at normal operating temperatures. Procedures and equipment for safe handling of this product must therefore be of the highest order.
Avgas grades are defined primarily by their octane rating. Two ratings are applied to aviation gasolines (the lean mixture rating and the rich mixture rating) which results in a multiple numbering system e.g. Avgas 100/130 (in this case the lean mixture performance rating is 100 and the rich mixture rating is 130).
In the past, there were many different grades of aviation gasoline in general use e.g. 80/87, 91/96, 100/130,108/135 and 115/145. However, with decreasing demand these have been rationalised down to one principle grade, Avgas 100/130. (To avoid confusion and to minimise errors in handling aviation gasoline, it is common practice to designate the grade by just the lean mixture performance, i.e. Avgas 100/130 becomes Avgas 100).
Some years ago, an additional grade was introduced to allow one fuel to be used in engines originally designed for grades with lower lead contents: this grade is called Avgas 100LL, the LL standing for 'low lead'.
All equipment and facilities handling avgas are colour coded and display prominently the API markings denoting the actual grade carried. Currently the two major grades in use internationally are Avgas 100LL and Avgas 100. To ease identification the fuels are dyed i.e. Avgas 100LL is coloured blue, while Avgas 100 is coloured green.