On-Road Diesel Fuel Receives First Upgrade in a Decade

Mon July 24, 2006 - Northeast Edition
David Hunt

By David Hunt


Descriptive labels are now required at the pump and refiners are shipping a new diesel fuel — ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD) — in transition to the first cleaner diesel fuel for road use in more than a decade.

Existing on-road diesel equipment will run on either the new ULSD or the older low sulfur diesel (LSD).

As of June 1, 80 percent of U.S. refiners’ diesel fuel output for road use was required to meet the cleaner ULSD standard. To complete the transition to the new on-road fuel, ULSD is set to reach downstream fuel terminals by Sept. 1. Retailers are expected to stock the new diesel fuel by Oct. 15.

Also on June 1, federal regulation required that all fuel dispensing systems, including those owned by contractors, must clearly specify the type of diesel fuel available at the pump.

“Meeting the labeling requirements is important so there’s no confusion,” said Leah Wood Pilconis, environmental counsel of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

Diesel fuel pump labels suggested by the American Petroleum Institute may be downloaded from www.clean-diesel.org. The labels are compliant with EPA regulation.

For non-road use, which governs construction, the restriction on sulfur steps down from the pre-Clean Air Act maximum of 3,400 parts per million in place currently, to a maximum of 500 parts per million by June 2007(LSD), and 15 parts per million by June 2010 (ULSD).

“The ULSD fuel [for road use] is working its way through the distribution system,” said Al Mannato, fuels issues manager of the American Petroleum Institute.

“The production level in the first few weeks of June was 1.9 million barrels per day, which is where it should be.”

EPA is not requiring retailers to carry the new diesel fuel during the transition period.

Also, retailers are allowed to carry both the new ULSD for road use as well as the older LSD formulation, if it is available.

Starting with model year 2007, new on-road diesel equipment must be equipped with more stringent emission control equipment, and will run only on the new ULSD formulation.

The EPA Web site suggests that, “If a new [2007 or later on-road] truck is misfueled once, it will have significantly higher emissions during operation on that fuel, but there should not be any significant long-term emissions or engine durability concerns as long as the vehicle is then fueled with the proper fuel. Constant misfueling would damage the aftertreatment/emission controls on these newer [on-road] vehicles.”

Final rulemaking on Heavy-Duty Engine and Vehicle Standards and Highway Diesel Fuel Sulfur Control Requirements was originally signed by President Clinton in December 2000. CEG

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