How Much Sulphur is in Fuel?

Sulphur is a naturally occurring component found in crude oil. When total sulphur content is more than 0.5 per cent oil is classed as “sour.” When total sulphur content is less than 0.5 per cent it’s classed as “sweet.” Unless it’s removed during the refining process, sulphur is also present in gasoline and diesel. As sulphur can have a negative impact on the effectiveness of emission control systems, fuels with high sulphur content contribute to air pollution.

This issue was addressed by the Tier 2 Gasoline Sulphur program, which was finalised by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2000 and reduced the legal content of sulphur in gasoline by as much as 90%. This allowed for the introduction of new emission control technologies in vehicles designed to minimise harmful emissions. The breakthrough Tier 2 was a milestone for environmentalists and marked the first time the EPA recognised vehicles and fuels as a collaborative system.

Moving towards cleaner, low-sulphur fuels

In 2009, an update made to the British Standard BS 2869 for gas oil ruled that all on-road vehicles must be powered by gasoline or diesel with a maximum sulphur content of 10ppm. In 2011, the same mandates were imposed on non-road vehicles. In 2017 the EPA followed suit and introduced the Tier 3 Gasoline Sulphur program, which mandated that all US gasoline must have an average sulphur content of 10ppm. The new standards were designed to slash emissions from both tailpipes and evaporation.

With the United Kingdom Petroleum Industry Association revealing that oil and petroleum products account for 38 per cent of energy consumption in the UK, it’s critical to address emissions within this sector and continue making it as clean as possible.

Targeting the maritime industry

Road transport isn’t the only industry being targeted, with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) introduced new regulations in 2020. The goal is to slash sulphur emissions by as much as 80 per cent in international waters and pressure the industry to make the switch to low sulphur fuels.

With strict new regulations in place, accurately calculating sulphur content in fuels will emerge as a top priority for fuel manufacturers and distributors.


Tags: EPA, Low-Sulphur, Sulphur
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