Regulator: Canadian Oil Sands Production May Triple by 2015
Researchers Use Ultrasonics to Boost Yield of Corn Ethanol Production

Ultra Low-Sulfur Diesel Regulations Take Effect in US

Pump label for ULSD.

Yesterday (1 June) marked the beginning of the phased-in implementation of EPA’s Clean Air Highway Diesel final rule that requires a 97% reduction in the sulfur content of highway diesel fuel from its current level of 500 parts per million (ppm) to 15 ppm. EPA estimates that this new diesel fuel will cost an additional 4 to 5 cents per gallon to produce and to distribute.

This Ultra Low-Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) will be available at retail stations beginning this summer and enables the use of modern pollution-control technology to meet the new EPA Tier 2 emissions specifications that will be fully in force at the end of this year.

Owners of 2007 and later model year diesel-powered highway vehicles must refuel only with ULSD fuel. Owners of 2006 and earlier model year diesel-powered highway engines and vehicles may use ULSD or Low Sulfur Diesel fuel during the transition period. Only ULSD fuel will be available for highway use starting on 1 December 2010 in states covered by EPA emissions regulations.

California regulations call for a more aggressive implementation of ULSD, with all highway diesel required to be ULSD by September 2006.

Improperly fueling a 2007 and later model year vehicle with Low Sulfur Diesel (LSD) not only can permanently damage the emissions system and void the warranty, but us illegal and punishable with civil penalties.

Only ultra low-sulfur kerosene (No. 1 diesel with no more than 15 ppm sulfur) may be blended with ULSD fuel for cold weather performance. Blend rates will remain the same as with Low Sulfur Diesel fuel.

Operators of mode year 2007 diesel vehicles may see some degradation in fuel economy—the process of lowering the sulfur content also slightly lowers the energy content of the fuel, and the new emissions control devices designed to meet the 2007 and beyond standards can apply their own fuel consumption penalty.

The current ULSD rule had its origin in 2000, and was finalized in January 2001. Beginning with the 2007 model year, pollution from heavy-duty highway vehicles will be reduced by more than 90%.

Engine manufacturers have the flexibility to meet the new standards through a phase-in approach between 2007 and 2010. The program also includes various flexible approaches, including additional time for some refiners and special provisions for small refiners.

Effective Dates for On-Highway ULSD Fuel
Who What US Calif.
Source: Clean Diesel Fuel Alliance.
Refiners & importers Import/produce at least 80% ULSD for on-highway use 1 JUN 2006
Import/produce at least 100% ULSD for on-highway use 1 JUN 2010 1 JUN 2006
Downstream from Refineries through Fuel Terminals Facilities that choose to cary ULSD must meet 15 ppm sulfur specification 1 SEP 2006
All highway diesel must be ULSD 1 OCT 2010 15 JUL 2006
Retail outlets Facilities that choose to carry ULSD must meet 15 ppm specification 15 OCT 2006
All highway diesel must be ULSD 1 DEC 2010 1 SEP 2006



fyi CO2

"Only ULSD fuel will be available for highway use starting on 1 December 2010 in states covered by EPA emissions regulations."

If it costs less than 5% more to produce & distribute, why can't it be the sole fuel beginning this year?
Once again, the EpA earns a lower case "p" for its pissant protection under the circumstances.

Tim Russell

How do you prevent misfueling if some LSD is still being sold at the same time vehicles requiring only ULSD are on the road? Mistakes will be made and owners may be in for a large repair bill.

Mike H.

Pretty long phase in, when you consider its not a new fuel but a cleaner fuel. Initially I thought it was supposed to be 100% ULSD by Jan 1, 2006. What a waffle! I understand the task is massive, but playing around with dates is not helping. Lets not give retailers and refiners the chance to pocket $.03 a gallon. If we do they will only find ways to put it off, and look for excuses such as natural disasters.

Rafael Seidl

California has it right: cut over completely as quickly as possible. Existing trucks can handle low-sulphur fuel just fine.

Europe has mandated 50ppm as of 2005, with another reduction to 10ppm by 2010. Some countries already voluntarily meet the lower limit today.


Now if only we could get them to mandate 15ppm of sulfur for gasoline as well.


I very long phase in considering Clinton and Gore started the program in 1995. It seems to be ok to extend the date for this, but not other program deadlines. It would be good to know why this timeline has been extended.

Rafael Seidl

Patrick -

EURO 95 gasoline with 10ppm has been available since 1.1.2005, and becomes mandatory on 1.1.2009. Many countries have already cut over.

In the US, the EPA Tier 2 program has obliged refiners to reduce gasoline sulphur content to 80ppm max (30ppm average) by 2006. This represent a 90% reduction relative to year 2000.

However, 10-15ppm would indeed be better, especially for the life expectancy of NOx store catalysts for lean-burn concepts. The European versions of BMW's spray-guided stratified GDI engines include such catalysts, as do VW/Audi's homogenous lean burn FSI and TFSI designs. This improves fuel economy by 10-15%, mostly by reducing the throttling losses.


300ppm allowed in 2004 and 2005; that is just unbelievable! I remember ~2000 US gasoline was about average for ppm of Sulfur...average amongst 3rd world nations - dead last for developed nations. Well, 80ppm is far better than 300ppm.


Indeed, in european countries with high diesel car sales (ie. Germany ~60%, Austria ~80%), the diesel fuel sold has somewhere between 1.5 ppm (GTL) and 7 ppm (Refined) sulphur content.

However, most likely the US refineries will not be able to cope with the new legislation, and US ULSD will most likely be bought in Rotterdam, driving diesel prices up all over europe (as it's the case with refined gasoline already).

Even with the much lower taxes (-30% in taxes alone) on diesel fuel in quite a few countries in europe, the prices are currently about the same between Regular Gasoline and Premium (GTL) Diesel around here, so that might even be a good thing to drive new car diesel sales back to sane levels (5-10%).

I still hope that the EU commission will eventually act against the unfair tax imbalance between Gasoline and Diesel (driving Regular Diesel prices to about Premium Gasoline Prices or higher), so that the NOx and PM levels in our cities start dropping...

BTW: a "clean" diesel (the type VW can no longer sell in the US starting in 2007 due to it's dirtiness) emits about as much CO2 (or more) than any Gasoline Full-Hybrid... And the Hybrid fulfills CA PZEV-SULEV class, an unheard of low level of pollutants around here (potentually equivalent with a EURO8 or EURO9 emissions rating, at the current rate of stingening the emissions levels in the EURO class framework).


This long phase in is ridiculous in that it doesn't match the emissions requirement timetable.

No wonder VW pulled it's diesels.

Rafael Seidl

Ash -

sulphur directly contributes to particulate matter. It also significantly increases the risk the PM poses to health because it turns to sulphuric acid pretty quickly. So switching to ULSD is a good idea.

Sulphur indirectly presents an NOx problem mostly if you intend to use an NOx store catalyst, as VW/Audi have done on the gasoline FSI and TFSI engines they sell in Europe. They have yet to use one in a diesel, though I believe the Toyota Avensis already does.

VW's MY 2006 diesel vehicles had been certified at Tier 2 Bin 9 or higher, and EPA is deleting those bins for MY 2007 and later. It is not correct to state that VW is suspending its US diesel vehicle sales them because ULSD will be phased in over a number of years. They just point blank did not have a suitable replacement model - nor did anyone else. I read that there is a backlog in diesel certifications.

Both Honda and VW have vowed to return to the fray asap with models that meet Tier 2 Bin 5. Mercedes wants to offer Bluetec models with SCR, but so far EPA is not satisifed that the OBD functions are really tamper-proof.


Rafael Seidl,
Mercedes E 320 CDI and VW Toureg V10 TDI are the only light duty cars availabe for 2007. VW is promising few more as 2008 models. If you want to find out what's going on in US diesel world the best place to look is at which is a light duty diesel fanatics club.

Rafael Seidl

W2 -

thx for the link. I was thinking of the Golf etc. The Toureg weighs over 6000lbs and therefore has a longer grace period (talk about non sequitur, but there it is).

DCX will also be offering a Jeep Cherokee with a diesel in 2007, but without any SCR system. The E 320 CDi may also not yet feature SCR, it's virtually impossible to find a direct answer to a simple question on the EPA web site. Here's the status as of two months ago:

In response, Mercedes is spinning Bluetec as an umbrella for all diesel-related emissions aftertreatment technologies, incl. NOx store catalysts.

scott vandeweghe

Who is perpetuating the urban legend that you can "Void a Warranty" by using improper fuel? Any failures caused by improper fuels, lubricants, or operation will not be covered (Costs absorbed by the warrantor) by an applicable warranty. Warranty on components not damaged is still in effect.

Rafael Seidl

Scott -

I was using shorthand. Of course the warranty on unrelated components would remain in effect - but if in doubt, a court may decide in favor of the carmaker if you caused damage due to improper handling of other components.

For example, serious mistakes like running on SVO for thousands of miles when the car is designed for diesel will cause serious damage to the injectors (cavitation), turbo (excess speed) and other core components. If you have to pay for those yourself, it will burn a serious hole in your pocket. If sometime later you come back with a warranty claim related to the windscreen wipers, you should be covered. For a claim regarding any part of the drivetrain, who knows? Better not to risk it!

Anybody seen any of these stickers yet? I was in KY yesterday and saw a similar sticker saying that this was 500ppm sulfer D not suitable for 07 models.

John Barber

I have new truck 2007 Dodge Ram 3500 6.7L cummins. I am concerned about how can I find Diesel at gas station in my area where I live in Long Beach, California. Zip code is 90813.
I need to find a Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel so badly. Thank you

John Barber

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)