The United States is a nation on the move. About 28% of all the energy people in the United States consume goes to transporting people and goods from one place to another.
Petroleum is the main source of energy for transportation
Petroleum fuels are made from crude oil and liquids from natural gas processing. The petroleum fuels used for transportation include gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, residual fuel oil, and liquid petroleum gases. In 2014, those fuels provided about 92% of the total energy used by the transportation sector in the United States. Biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, contributed about 5% of the total energy used by the transportation sector, and natural gas contributed about 3%1. Electricity provided less than 1% of the total energy used.
Gasoline is the most commonly used U.S. transportation fuel
Gasoline is the dominant transportation fuel used in the United States. Gasoline (excluding fuel ethanol) accounted for 56% of total U.S. transportation energy use in 2014. When the ethanol that is blended into finished motor gasoline is included, gasoline's share was about 60%. Gasoline (including fuel ethanol) consumption for transportation averaged about 8.8 million barrels (368 million gallons) per day. About 7 million gallons per day of gasoline were consumed for uses other than for transportation. Gasoline is used mainly in cars, motorcycles, and light trucks. Diesel fuel (or distillate fuel) is used mainly by heavy trucks, buses, and trains. Kerosene is used in jet airplanes, and residual fuel oil is used in ships. Natural gas and liquid petroleum gas are used in all types of vehicles, but they are used predominantly in heavy duty vehicles such as buses and other large transportation vehicles. Most of the electricity used for transportation is used by public mass transit systems.
Biofuels are added to petroleum fuels
Ethanol and biodiesel were actually some of the first fuels used in automobiles, but they were replaced by gasoline and diesel fuel. Today, most of the biofuels used in vehicles are added to gasoline and diesel fuel. Government incentives and mandates contributed to large increases in the use of biofuels in the United States over the past several decades. The amount of fuel ethanol added to motor gasoline consumed for transportation went from about 1 billion gallons in 1995 to about 13 billion gallons in 2014. Biodiesel consumption increased from 10 million gallons in 2001 to about 1.4 billion gallons in 2014.
1 Includes natural gas consumption by compressors on natural gas pipelines.