Such high compression ratios—and the premium fuels that go with them—could be turned to efficiency, rather than speed, Green notes, especially if put into the engines of lighter cars like his Honda Civic. Other automotive fuels, such as ethanol, can also offer high octane ratings, allowing oil companies to use more volatile gasoline in such blends. But for standard cars on the road today, purchasing premium gasoline is simply paying a premium for a fuel that delivers no added benefits. "If you think you need it," Green says, "you're being very eccentric."
Note: This article was changed after publication to correct an error. It originally stated that heptane has 14 hydrogen atoms.