This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

October 18, 2006

Ultra-Low-Sulfur Diesel Fuel Allows Cleaner Diesel Vehicles

A rectangular label says the following: Ultra-low sulfur highway diesel fuel (15 ppm Sulfur Maximum). Required for use in all model year 2007 and later highway diesel vehicles and engines. Recommended for use in all diesel vehicles and engines.

Drivers of diesel vehicles should look for this label, which is now beginning to appear on fuel pumps throughout the United States.
Credit: American Petroleum Institute

Ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel is now available at retail fueling stations throughout the United States, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The ULSD fuel contains only 15 parts-per-million (ppm) of sulfur, down from 500 ppm, and will allow a new generation of diesel-fueled vehicles that will achieve cleaner emissions. Starting on June 1st, the EPA required refiners and importers to assure that 80 percent of the diesel fuel intended for highway use would meet ULSD specifications, and since the clean fuel has worked its way through the distribution system, retail stations are now able to offer ULSD fuel. California shifted all of its retail highway fuel to ULSD in September, but the nation as a whole has until 2010 to shift all diesel fuel pumps for highway use to ULSD. See the EPA press release and the Clean Diesel Fuel Alliance Web site.

To take advantage of the new cleaner diesel fuel, new regulations for cleaner diesel engines will start phasing in with the 2007 model year. ULSD fuel allows the use of technologies such as particulate filters and catalytic converters, which are ruined if exposed to higher levels of sulfur. Because of this sensitivity, new diesel-fueled vehicles (model year 2007 and later) must only be fueled with ULSD. Older vehicles can also burn ULSD. While older vehicles will achieve a 10 percent decrease in soot emissions by burning ULSD, the new vehicles designed for ULSD will achieve emissions reductions of up to 95 percent, according to the Diesel Technology Forum (DTF) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). That will allow U.S. consumers to buy diesel-fueled vehicles that achieve a 20 to 40 percent improvement in fuel economy while also meeting improved emissions standards. See the DTF/NRDC press release and the Clean Diesel Fuel Alliance's "Vehicle Performance" Web page.

Among the vehicles that are being rolled out to take advantage of the ULSD fuel are a new Ford Super Duty pickup, two models of the Dodge Ram pickup (using turbocharged engines from Cummins Inc.), the first diesel-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the Mercedes Benz E 320 BLUETEC, a sedan that's advertised as the world's cleanest diesel-fueled car. See the press releases from Ford, Cummins, Jeep, and DaimlerChrysler.