Frequently Asked Questions

How much carbon dioxide is produced by burning gasoline and diesel fuel?

About 19.64 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) are produced from burning a gallon of gasoline that does not contain ethanol. About 22.38 pounds of CO2 are produced from burning a gallon of diesel fuel.

EIA estimates1 that U.S. motor gasoline and diesel (distillate) fuel consumption for transportation in 2015 resulted in the emission of about 1,105 million metric tons of CO2 and 440 million metric tons of CO2, respectively, for a total of 1,545 million metric tons of CO2. This total was equivalent to 83% of total U.S. transportation sector CO2 emissions and equivalent to 29% of total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions in 2015.

Under international agreement, CO2 emissions from the combustion of biomass or biofuels are not included in national greenhouse gas emissions inventories.2 Most of the retail gasoline now sold in the United States contains about 10% fuel ethanol (or E10) by volume. Burning a gallon of E10 produces about 17.68 pounds of CO2 that is emitted from the fossil fuel content. If the CO2 emissions from ethanol combustion are considered, then about 18.95 pounds of CO2 are produced when a gallon of E10 is combusted. About 12.73 pounds of CO2 are produced when a gallon of pure ethanol is combusted.

Biodiesel fuel can be purchased in many states. Biodiesel fuel is sold with various amounts of biodiesel content. B20 is a commonly sold biodiesel fuel. B20 contains 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel fuel.  Burning a gallon of B20 results in the emission of about 17.90 pounds of CO2 that is emitted from the fossil fuel content. If the emissions from burning the biodiesel in B20 are included, then about 22.06 pounds of CO2 are produced. About 20.77 pounds of CO2 are produced from burning a gallon of B100 (100% biodiesel).

1 As of April 26, 2016; preliminary estimates.
2  Environment (Section note), Monthly Energy Review.

Learn more:
Carbon dioxide emission factors for transportation fuels
Historical U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions by source (fuel type) and sector
Historical data on U.S. ethanol and biodiesel production and consumption (Tables 10.3 and 10.4)
Metric conversion factors

Last updated: May 6, 2016


Other FAQs about General Energy

On This Page:

Coal

Conversion & Equivalents

Crude Oil

Diesel

Electricity

Environment

Gasoline

General Energy

Natural Gas

Nuclear

Prices

Renewables

Full list of upcoming reports

Sign up for email notifications

Get the What's New RSS feed

Didn't find the answer to your question? Ask an energy expert.

(required)