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IFQC Ranks Top 100 Countries by Low Sulfur Gasoline Regulations; US in 9th Place

Gasoline sulfur limits map. Click to enlarge.

The International Fuel Quality Center (IFQC) has ranked the top 100 countries based on sulfur limits in gasoline; Germany was found to be at the top of the ranking with the lowest sulfur limits. Following in second and third place were Japan and Sweden, respectively. If California was a country, it would have ranked along with these top achievers.

Sulfur is a compound found naturally in crude oil; as a result, it passes into refined products such as transportation fuels when crude is processed at the refinery. When sulfur is emitted into the air as a result of fuel combustion, its compounds have negative environmental and health effects. Gasoline desulfurization improves engine efficiency and leads to reduced overall emissions of not just sulfur itself, but also hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen oxides (NOx).

Focus on sulfur reduction for clean burning gasoline has increased dramatically since 2000. Desulfurization is now expanding beyond on-road fuels. Discussions are already underway regarding further reduction of sulfur limits in marine fuels and increasing the number of sulfur emission controlled areas in EU and US waters, for example.

—Liisa Kiuru, executive director, IFQC

Industry and policymakers around the world have placed emphasis on reducing sulfur limits in fuels for decades now, but variations in those limits remain. Overall, the majority of countries around the world are moving toward low sulfur fuels.

All EU countries placed within the top 50; nearly 100% market penetration of “sulfur-free” (less than 10ppm) fuels is expected in the EU by 2009, furthering the region’s role as a leader in clean fuels. Some of the oil-rich nations like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) also ranked in the top 50 for low sulfur limits in gasoline (Qatar 46th and UAE 41st). Other noteworthy rankings in the top 100 include Mexico (54th) and Venezuela (84th), China (53rd), India (55th) and Indonesia (76th).

Germany’s number one ranking is especially noteworthy because the country’s move to sulfur-free gasoline was influenced by tax incentives two years before legislation was introduced in 2005. That is a tremendous accomplishment and one that Japan has also mirrored.

—Liisa Kiuru

On the other hand, some countries such as Brazil and Malaysia have made great strides in the development of biofuels, but neither of these countries made it as one of the top 100 countries with the lowest sulfur limits in gasoline. At the bottom of the ranking, six nations from Africa, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Middle East were tied for last place.


  • IFQC Country Gasoline Sulfur Limits Table



From what I've read previously, Tier II regulations say in U.S. gasoline should have a maximum 80 ppm sulfur, but should average 30 ppm. Seems odd, but that's government for ya...

Rafael Seidl

Sulfur is relatively easy to remove from gasoline. Kerosene, diesel and heavy fuel oil, now those take a lot more effort to clean up - similar charts for those fuels would arguably be more relevant, even in the US.

Diesel substitutes, e.g. fatty acid methyl esters (biodiesel), terpenes (from Copaifera langsdorfii), BTL and DME are naturally free of sulfur compounds like H2S and mercaptans.

@ mulad -

that was put in so refineries could get away with using sour crude feedstock every once in a while as long as they otherwise stick with sweet grades. It's really no different than the bin system they use to compute sales-weighted fleet average criteria emissions.


Actually, the very fact gasoline nowadays only have 30 ppm of sulfur compounds is the very reason why they've been able to develop better emission controls, since there are no worries about sulfur compounds corroding exhaust emission controls. You can reduce the levels to 10 ppm so you can go to direct-injection gasoline engines with lean burn operation, but that requires an expensive NOx filter, so the relatively low fuel economy improvements (about 3-4%) isn't worth the cost of the engine upgrade.

C Williams

Help one person make adifference in the environment

It's time to let the Oil companies know that we won't deal with higher and higher prices of gas. We watch money leave our pockets and emissions ruin our environment

Do not drive a vehicle on May 18th and let them know that a grass roots effort can bring their profits down and save the environment. The entire environmental impact could be monumental.

Check out this page and send it on to everyone you know and tell them to send it on......Let's make a difference



To C Williams
Primus: The 18th is a Sunday and I go to church then, Church is NOT in walking distance.
Secundus: An increasing price of gasoline is actually a net positive for the environment as it causes people to switch to more fuel efficient vehicles (which also happen to produce fewer pollutants), drive less on every day (not just some randomly designated activist day), and hasten the adoption of alternative fuels and transportation methods (such as public transport) by making these increasingly economically viable.
Teritus: These empty political gestures invariably are nothing but feel good measures. In the long run sound policies arrived at by political organizing and sound science are far more effective.
Quartus: In what way should I object that a commercial corporation, which is organized for the sole purpose of maximizing profit on investment, succeeds in its objective. Surely you weren't under the impression that these soulless, legal creations were here for some other reason, were you? Exxon is not actually a person, it's a legal charter granted to a bunch of individuals and other corporations designed to make money for said investors by whatever means it can. Are you angry you didn't buy stock?
For all these reasons you can count me out of this ill conceived activity.
Oh and for what its worth I perceive your message as spam, seeing as how it bears no obvious relation to the information article you posted it against, and thus I would refuse to participate in your campaign for that reason alone even if all the other reasons were not valid.



Well said Larry.

Rafael Seidl

@ Raymond -

gasoline direct injection does not depend on ultra-low sulfur levels, but lean NOx traps do. However, it is possible to at least substantially reduce throttling losses in part load via externally cooled EGR. This charge dilution is sometimes referred to as lean operation, but it isn't in the chemical sense - there is still no excess oxygen in the exhaust gas, so you can still use an inexpensive three-way catalyst.

Ricardo has suggested an approach it calls EGR boost. It combines a GDI engine, an affordable VGT turbo and externally cooled EGR at *low* pressure, i.e. extracted from the exhaust gas flow downstream of the catalytic converter and re-injected upstream of the compressor.

There are challenges related to condensation etc. but in principle, this approach can support EGR rates of 20-30% across the entire speed range of an engine. That translates to low throttling losses in part load and, reduced engine-out temperatures at high load - eliminating the need for mixture enrichment and making the use of an affordable VGT turbo possible in the first place.



Here here!

I have an old Honda that I try to keep parked as much as possible waiting for the next wave of hybrids that are plug in. Grandstanding won't save the day. Good daily choices by millions of free individuals has a huge impact and is lasting.

stas peterson


If I understand your comments about lean burn and the Ricardo system, is it then your position that there is little to be gained by further reducing Sulfur in gasoline by more than the present US 30 ppm? i find that surprising but significant.

Would you then say that forcing further reductions are more "feel good" actions much in the spirit of "Earth Hour", than any thing else? Are there implications to HCCI operation in further reductions in S?

My inclinations are always to remove genuine and real toxic pollution, like SOx and NOx, Vocs, and perhaps PM rather than feel good eyewash like CO2, that the marketplace itself will minimize by itself, soon.

In any case not an immediate concern, save for immediacy necessary to maintain the scare and continue the fund raising.

Where might the effort "wasted" in your opinion be better spent and directed?

For your part, I will offer for you, a similarly surprising study that contradicts what we all would usually think. Unlike semi-popular opinions, this is a genuine peer-reviewed science paper, from a continuing organization, that I have here. It is not the typical drivel.


I think collective action can send a powerful message. If we all chose not to buy gasoline from Exxon one day per week, that would send a message. Considering the oil companies took over $100 billion in profits every year for the last several years and still take huge tax breaks on top of that, I would say that the message of "millions of free individuals" is not getting through. Perhaps it is just too inconvenient for some of those individuals to get involved working with others.

Rafael Seidl

@ Stas Peterson -

I did not mean to imply that further reductions in gasoline sulfur content would be a bad idea, at least from the public health perspective. Rather, I just wanted to clarify that car makers cannot use sulfur levels as an excuse for failing to improve the fuel economy of their gasoline-powered models. You make think global warming is much ado abut nothing, but express CO2 in terms of fuel consumption and it becomes an economic issue for many car owners these days.

Of course, before you mandate ever-lower sulfur levels and ever-higher cost for on-road gasoline, you need to make sure that is n fact still the most significant source of SOx immissions. EPA and CARB appear to have decided some time ago that their near-term focus is on cleaning up emissions from diesel engines at all scales, which is currently only possible with equipment that is sensitive to fuel sulfur. Expect increased pressure to reduce the sulfur content of the various non-road grades and, of heating oil.

stas peterson


Thank you for your views.

I too readily accept that the efforts to clean up the diesel at all sizes including heavy onroad, offroad, rail and marine uses will lead to mandated reductions in Sulfur for those fuels. It is why I specifically restricted the question to gasoline.

I know many posting here are way too prone to accept the statements that EU "clean diesels" are clean; or anywhere near clean.

The US air cleanup organizations, CARB and EPA have IMO correctly agreed that T2B5 is the first acceptable level of clean(er) (ie still dirty) diesels.

That these vehicles would not be clean at all.

Most of these posters, would recoil in horror, if anyone suggested removing the laws mandating catalytic converters for gasoline engines.

Yet they think EU diesel standards are all right, and T2B5 is perfect nirvana.

We both know that a gasoline car emitting at much toxics as a T2B5 diesel would be ruled unsaleable in CARB and Federal states both. But they will allow those diesels, and the air quality might decline for the first time since the 1970s, were other changes also happening in parallel.

I really feel we should be looking to issue diesel regulations for circa post-2015 for T2B2 levels diesels. Now that CARB is about to revisit its idiotic ZEV rules, we really need a set of "LEV III" regulations that introduce various levels of finer cleanup of LDVs, between SULEV and artificial ZEV, (that only considers fuel burning and not fuel preparation.)

Do you also feel that the automotive technology exists to aim for practical AT-PZEVs as a widespread and reasonable standard? Without stretching the constrained R&D pool of the automakers as they spend profligately on the electrification of transport?

If you accept the premise, where would you see getting the most "bang for buck" of further restrictive regulations? VOCs?, PMs? or ?



2.5 million died in Sudan at the hands of China and Russian influence over corrupt Sudanese leaders. China and Russia have made billions off oil, weapons and supporting tyrants. In fact, each country has a far, far worse record than ours.

Let me know when you boycott those countries and their Russian Mafia owned and Chinese Army owned companies.

Or, you could pull another Jimmy Carter. Remember those wonderful days in lines at the pumps?

Free Market system works best. The price allows competitors of all types to move into transportation marketplace. The best way to vote is with your feet, to new and better deals in technology and transportation.

By comparison, oil company profits in percentages are in line with many other business sectors. I guess we should boycott Microsoft, Apple and every other technology company that makes more profit by percentage than oil companies.

Demonize oil all you like. If not for oil, our country never would've been the giant economic force it is today.

We learn and we move forward. But until you boycott China and Russian companies you're a hypocrite. As both countries ruthlessly employ leaders in countries like Sudan to pillage their lands. Russia, Putin and his cronies all renationalized their oil companies. They instigate much of the trouble around the world. They cut off free countries like Ukraine and even Europe.

Yet everyone here lives in myopic space of hate America and American companies first. At least acknowledge what is happening in the rest of the world at the hand of much more cold and calculating rulers who oppress, torture and propagandize their own people.

And I say that with much respect for what Green Car is trying to do here. As well as many of your comments I agree with in the past.

Mr Brody


You could always ride your bike to Church. What better way to honor God than to tread softy on his creation.

Rafael Seidl

@ Stas Peterson -

unlike the EU, neither EPA nor CARB differentiate between engine technologies in their emissions regs. T2B5 is what EPA requires as the fleet average, so to argue that Americans would recoil in horror at having to drive something that is "only" T2B5 compliant has no basis in fact. In California, LEV II is exactly equivalent to T2B5 - hence the "50-state solution" - but represents the maximum emissions level permitted there. Further tightening is expected in both jurisdictions to deal with the absolute impact of the total vehicle fleet, which is still growing in terms of both unit numbers and total miles traveled (same logic applies to sulfur in the fuel).

However, Ricardo for one have already pre-announced next-gen technology that will allow diesels to meet T2B5 without LNT or urea injection and T2B2 with it. Perhaps you underestimate just how large a leap diesel emissions technology has made in just the last few years - of course, it will take a decade or more for that to work its way into the fleet. Just because diesels will never be quite as clean as spark ignition engines doesn't mean they cannot be made "clean enough" in the context of $100 oil.

@ Rafael,

I urge you to determine for yourself what the effective cleanliness level of the new vehicle sold in CARB states is today. It has migrated over time to a much cleaner than the absolute upper limit of allowed emissions.

CARB is proud of that fact, and has broadcast that in the past, that the effective level is approaching SULEV, or perhaps today, even better. So a brand new T2B5 diesel is in fact dirtier, than a new CARB compliant 50 state vehicle would likely be.

Perforce if you replace the next new CARB complaint vehicle with that still legal vehicle that is "only" T2B5 diesel, the air gets marginally dirtier. It may be legal, but it is going backwards in achieving clean air.

The SCAQD is the last place in the US that you would do that. Although it is much cleaner that it used to be, it still is not clean due to the thermal inversion, together with the accident of geography.

When I say it is cleaner, that is often rejected by people who can admit no progress in their ignorance. In the La basin, there are still 30-40 days of "polluted air" measured and designated; versus the 250 or more days per year, of a looser standard, that used to be measured.

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