Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel

Star Oilco and Hydrotex, along with our customers, experienced a lot of problems with “Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel,” such as higher prices, market volatility, fuel-component failures and storage issues. Our Hydrotex experience tells us, “accessing best in class industry resources, we started in the early 1990s researching and testing chemical and physical methods to improve fuel quality and deliver better reliability and performance”.

What is Ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD)?

ULSD is diesel fuel with substantially lowered sulfur content. As of 2006, almost all the petroleum-based diesel fuel available in Europe and North America is of a ULSD type. There is not a single standard set of specifications and as the government mandated standard becomes progressively stricter, so does the definition.

The move to Ultra-low-sulfur content was expected to allow the application of newer emissions control technologies that was and is intended to substantially lower emissions of particulate matter from diesel engines. This change occurred first in the European Union and is now happening in North America. California has recently adopted new emissions standards dependent on the new tier 3 and tier 4 engine design and technology requires cleaner fuel, which helps engines to burn fuel more efficiently with less emissions of pollutants in the air. These emission standards have been in effect for trucks and automobiles in the United States since model year 2007.

Oregon will surely follow suit as will Washington state. Because of these new EPA regulations, diesel engines manufactured today are cleaner than ever before. But because diesel engines can operate for 30 years or more, millions of older, dirtier engines are still in use. Some truck fleets are being retrofitted with new equipment to reduce the amount of these pollutants in our air. ’07-and-newer diesel engines have been fitted with a diesel particulate filter (DPF) in the exhaust pipe to capture soot particles. This matrix of materials traps the particulates (soot) flowing out the exhaust pipe reduce diesel emissions from existing engines. Reducing exposure to diesel exhaust from these engines is especially important for human health and the environment.

One other drawback is that ULSD has a lower energy content (BTU’s) due to the heavy processing required to remove large amounts of sulfur from the oil, leading to 1 to 2% lower fuel economy. Using it requires more costly oil.