a colorless, liquid hydrocarbon of the alkane series, C 16 H 34 , used as a solvent and in cetane number determinations.

1930–35; cet(yl) + -ane

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World English Dictionary
cetane (ˈsiːteɪn)
Also called: hexadecane a colourless insoluble liquid alkane hydrocarbon used in the determination of the cetane number of diesel fuel. Formula: C16H34
[C19: from Latin cētus whale + -ane, so called because related compounds are found in sperm whale oil]

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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
cetane   (sē'tān')  Pronunciation Key 
A colorless liquid hydrocarbon derived from petroleum. It is used as a solvent and a component of diesel fuels. Chemical formula: C16H34.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Cetane rating is the diesel equivalent to gasoline's octane rating.
Cetane improver is important in satisfying the on-road diesel cetane number
Cetane may therefore not be correlated unequivocally to ignition delay in
  modern engines.
The cetane index is a correlate of the cetane number, which is a measure of the
  ease with which a fuel is ignited.
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