Last week marked a major milestone for the nation’s transition to ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel as all highway diesel fuel in the United States complies with the landmark 15 parts per million (ppm) sulfur standard - a 97 percent reduction in sulfur content from diesel’s 2006 levels.
The Dec. 1 deadline was mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, according to EPA’s pump survey, the highway transition to ULSD was actually completed a few weeks ago.
“It is quite a remarkable feat that refiners have been able to reduce the sulfur content in diesel fuel by 97 percent,” said Allen Schaeffer, the executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, a non-profit national organization dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of diesel engines, fuel and technology. “The United States now officially has the cleanest on-road diesel fuel in the world.
“This year has included several important environmental landmarks - the 40th anniversary of the Clean Air Act, the 10th anniversary of the National Clean Diesel Campaign, and now the official completion of the new ultra-low sulfur diesel transition.
“The new clean diesel fuel will be a major contributor in helping cities and states meet strict new air quality goals set by the federal government,” Schaeffer said.
“This new, ultra-clean fuel is extremely important because sulfur tends to hamper exhaust-control devices in diesel engines, like lead once impeded the catalytic converters on gasoline cars. Just as taking the lead out of gasoline in the 1970s enabled a new generation of emissions control technologies that have made gasoline vehicles over 95 percent cleaner, removing the sulfur from diesel help usher in a new generation of clean diesel technology.
“But we’re not stopping here,” continued Schaeffer. “We’re also continuing our important work to transition off-road vehicles like farm tractors and construction machines to ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel. Construction and agricultural equipment manufacturers are well on their way to launching a new generation of low-emission clean diesel engines that will require this cleaner fuel.
“This effort is important toward decreasing emissions throughout the nation. Two-thirds of all farm and construction equipment rely on diesel engines due to their unique combination of power, fuel efficiency, economical ownership and operation and legendary reliability and durability.”