A glossary for energy-independence alphabet soup

In our quest for energy independence, we’ve run across quite a few different terms with abbreviations. So many, in fact, sometimes it’s hard to keep track. That’s why we’ve decided to organize them all in one place. Read up, bookmark the page, and become an expert.


AFV (Alternative fuel vehicle)

This one is just like it sounds. If it’s a vehicle, and it runs on an alternative fuel (i.e. anything not gasoline or diesel) it’s an AFV.shutterstock_15240334


EV (Electric vehicle)

Speaking of AFVs, EVs are a perfect example, as they (at least sometimes) run on electricity, not gasoline or diesel. An EV can refer to a few different types of vehicles, which we explain below.shutterstock_375683734


BEV (Battery electric vehicle)

A BEV is an EV that runs exclusively on electricity, like a Tesla.


PHEV (Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle)

A PHEV is an EV that can run on either electricity OR gasoline, like a Chevy Volt.


FCV (Fuel cell vehicle)shutterstock_326380145

FCVs are powered by hydrogen that reacts with a fuel cell to create electricity, heat, and water. While most FCVs have a hydrogen fuel tank that needs to be refueled, there are other experimental FCVs that use other fuels, like ethanol, to generate the hydrogen on board the vehicle.

LPG (Liquefied petroleum gas)shutterstock_175064942

LPG vehicles run on a fuel known as autogas, which is mixture of butane and propane. Their engines are similar to gasoline internal combustion engines, but optimized to run LPG. They are most commonly used in Turkey, South Korea, Poland, Italy, and Australia.


NGV (Natural gas vehicle)shutterstock_97583327

Used widely in the Asia-Pacific and Latin American regions, NGVs are the fourth-largest transportation fuel system in the world behind gasoline, diesel, and LPG vehicles. Any type of vehicle that is powered by natural gas is considered an NGV.


CNG (Compressed natural gas)

One of the two types of NGVs, CNG is natural gas that has been compressed to fit in fuel containers. It is more commonly used to power passenger vehicles, as well as city buses, garbage trucks, and other industrial vehicles.shutterstock_234173353


LNG (Liquefied natural gas)shutterstock_338482139

The other type of NGV, LNG takes up 1/600th of the volume of CNG because it is cooled to -260 °F and kept in a liquid state. However, the amount of energy and safety equipment required to use and refuel LNG vehicles has limited its use to mostly industrial shipping services.


HEV (Hybrid electric vehicle)

shutterstock_333753812Despite having electric vehicle in its name, an HEV is not considered an EV. The reason being that while it does have an electric propulsion system, that system is used to help the primary gasoline engine, not operate on its own. Or, to put it more simply, it doesn’t have a plug, and can’t run on electricity alone — think Prius. Yes we know that’s confusing. We don’t make the rules, just explain them.


E10, E15, E85

shutterstock_8832595E10, E15, and E85 represent blends of gasoline. The E stands for ethanol, and number stands for the maximum percentage of ethanol in that fuel blend. So E10 contains up to 10 percent ethanol, E15 has up to 15 percent, etc. Most gasoline in the United States is E10, and more states are introducing E15, which can run in all cars model year 2001 and newer. E85 is for FFVs (see below).


FFV (Flex-fuel vehicle) 

flexfuelbadgeFFVs are cars and trucks that can run on either gasoline or a blend of up to 85 percent ethanol, known as E85 (but you already  knew that). There are currently about 19 million FFVs in the United States, and in Brazil nearly all cars and trucks are FFVs. For more on FFVs and whether or not you may have one and not even know it, click here.


AKI (Anti-knock index)

shutterstock_99234395-300x210Remember those three numbers at the gas station? Those are AKI ratings. AKI is a measure of octane, which tells you how much pressure and heat a fuel can withstand before exploding (or knocking). Fuels with high AKI ratings running in the proper engine can increase efficiency and power of vehicles while reducing emissions. Click here to learn more about this octane stuff that AKI measures.


MPG (Miles per gallon)shutterstock_15815302

A measurement of how many miles a vehicle can go on a gallon of fuel. Sometimes you may also see MPGe or MPGge, (which stands for miles per gallon gasoline equivalent), which represents how far a vehicle goes per unit of energy consumed, as opposed to gallons.


CAFE (Corporate average fuel economy)shutterstock_82068937

A fancy term for how regulators measure MPG, CAFE is used when making CAFE standards — rules that incentivize automakers to make more fuel-efficient vehicles each year. Learn more about CAFE Standards and how they effect our economy and national security at our Policy CAFE.


OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries)

“Cartel” is more accurate than “organization” when it comes to OPEC. Ever since 1973, this collection of countries has collaborated to try and keep oil prices high.shutterstock_343287002


Enough with the abbreviations already (EWAA)

We get it, you’re tired of looking at short form names. So go on, get out there and wow your friends and family with your newfound knowledge of all things fuel.


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