The dielectric constant (DC) of a substance is a measure of the relative effectiveness of that substance as an electrical insulator. The perfect electrical insulator is a vacuum, which has a DC of 1.00000. By comparison, air has a DC of 1.00059, almost the same as a vacuum, and water has a DC value of 78.2. A dielectric meter measures the relative DC of gasoline by measuring the difference in capacitance of the probe between a standard (usually cyclohexane, with true DC value of 2.025) and the gasoline sample. Q: Why is measurement of this characteristic an effective test for gasoline? A: Gasoline as refined is a mixture of pure hydrocarbons. A unique physical property of a pure hydrocarbon fluid is that its DC is virtually the lowest of any liquid. The addition of power enhancing additives to gasoline, such as some oxygen and nitrogen bearing compounds, cause gasoline's DC to rise dramatically. A gasoline dielectric tester thus provides a simple, reliable way of determining whether ... more
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