Tetraethyl Lead (TEL)

Definition - What does Tetraethyl Lead (TEL) mean?

Tetraethyl Lead, abbreviated as TEL, is an organometallic compound which is mixed with gasoline or petrol in order to reduce knocking in gasoline driven internal combustion engines and boost the octane ratings of gasoline. This helps in better engine performance and fuel economy. TEL used to be added in the late 1980’s in gasoline driven engines and have been banned in most of the countries now because of its toxic nature. Today’s engines use lead free gasoline as fuel.

Petropedia explains Tetraethyl Lead (TEL)

Tetraethyl lead or TEL is produced when chloroethane reacts with sodium lead alloy. The chemical equation is as follows:

4 NaPb + 4 CH3CH2Cl = (CH3CH2)4Pb + 4 NaCl + 3 Pb

The chemical formula of TEL is (CH3CH2)4Pb.

The product from the above chemical equation is recovered by distillation process of steam which leaves a sludge of lead (Pb) and sodium chloride (NaCl). Tetraethyl lead is a thick viscous and colorless liquid. Because TEL has a neutral charge and contains an exterior of alkyl groups, it is highly lipophilic and soluble in petrol (gasoline).

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