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Grab a pen and put a dash on your calendars, December 2010 marks the dawn of a new era in diesel fuel. From this month forth, all diesel pumps in the U.S. are required to dispense nothing but ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) for highway applications. The multi-year switch to ULSD has allowed automakers to design oil-burning vehicles with complex emissions control technologies that have the ability to substantially lower the amount of particulate matter they emit, leading to cleaner-running automobiles.
Though December marks the end of the transition period and the introduction of ULSD at pumps nationwide, EPA surveys show that all fueling stations actually met this requirement several months ago. Data from EPA's ULSD pump survey, began in the Fourth Quarter of 2006, indicates that 100 percent of highway diesel fuel pumps were dispensing ULSD at the end of September. In addition, the sulfur content of the tested fuel averages seven parts per million (ppm), meaning that it's about 97 cleaner than the sulfur-filled (500 ppm) fuel that was used in the U.S. back in 2006. That's what we call progress.

[Source: Clean-Diesel | Image: Mulad – C.C. License 2.0]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 10 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Gas stations add their own blend of lubricity additives which more than offsets the lower lubricity ULSD has to offer, ULSD has been available in canada and europe for a long time now, and does not affect engine longivity at all. I have a diesel with half a million km on it and no signs of wear, mostly on ULSD.
      • 4 Years Ago
      2 things -
      1) biodiesel does improve lubricity and is good to restore some of that removed with the sulfur
      2) sulfur had to be reduced in order to meet the particulate standard at all - sulfur in the fuel = sulfate particulates - there is no other way to get rid of the sulfate particulates other than to make sure they aren't there to begin with
      • 4 Years Ago
      And we still do not have decent diesels to chose from beside the VW's and MB of the world. Be nice to have a small displacement 2.0L or less from a Asian or US manufactorer. Yea, yea we all know how US diesel is cleaner then the Euro ones. Just make and sell them over here...like a nice Honda Civic.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Believe it or not in europe alot of the U.S. manufacturers use VW/Audi diesel technology in their vehicles. Perhaps that is what they need to start doing here.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This ain't your father's diesel; there are diesels that go for over 200,000 mile without major wear to the cylinders; That's because sulfur helped to lube that part of the engine. The ULSD doesn't contain great amounts of sulfur and there is debate over how long engines will last using ULSD. So, I would think greatly before buying a diesel because you think they live longer.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The sulphur itself wasn't the killer pollutant, but the methods required to clean the emissions (particulate filter in particular) did not take kindly to the sulphur.

        A really good source for VW TDI engines and biodiesel is the TDI club (www.tdiclub.com), and this forum in particular ( http://forums.tdiclub.com/forumdisplay.php?f=52).
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Sulfur impurities in fuels also provide some lubrication properties, which has to be taken in account when switching to a low-sulfur diesel"

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lubricant
        • 4 Years Ago
        It would seem that the lubricity added by a biodiesel blend would offset the loss from the sulfur. My diesel knowledge is fairly limited, but intuitively this makes sense. Although, the sulfur acting as a lubricant is news to me.

        I'm not clear on how the reduction in the sulfur content of the fuel is tied to the development of the cleaner emissions systems, unless removing the sulfur somehow had a negative impact on the cleanliness of the existing engines.

        I usually run B99 in my 2005 Passat, but I am forced to use B20 in the colder months to avoid the geling problem that B99 has at lower temperatures. Are there any implications to be aware of when running ULSD in diesel engines of that vintage?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Thankyou George W. Bush
      • 4 Years Ago
      Does this mean we can *finally* get good diesel cars?