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ULSD, PC-10 on track for fall roll-out: Petro-Canada

WINNIPEG, Man. - Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel fuel and PC-10 engine oils are two offshoots of the impending 2007 emissions standards that are still not well understood by the trucking industry. In fact, a...




WINNIPEG, Man. – Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel fuel and PC-10 engine oils are two offshoots of the impending 2007 emissions standards that are still not well understood by the trucking industry. In fact, a recent study by our Transportation Media research division shows that fleets and owner/operators ranked their own understanding of ULSD a 2.5 (2.45 for fleets and 2.55 for O/Os) on a scale of 1-5. When it came to PC-10, the same survey found fleets and owner/operators were even more confused, with fleets ranking their understanding of the subject a 1.82 out of five and O/Os coming in at 1.72.

With that in mind, Petro-Canada recently hosted a seminar in Winnipeg to bring its fleet customers and diesel retailers up to speed and let them know how the new fuel and lube standard will affect them.

ULSD

The 2007 engines are clean-burning machines but they need a low-sulfur fuel to operate at their most efficient. As Donna McMahon, senior fuels advisor, Petro-Canada Western Canada points out, sulfur acts as a poison to the catalysts found in the new generation of engines that will be rolled out in 2007.

As a result, refineries have been told to reduce the amount of sulfur in their diesel from today’s standard of 500 parts per million (PPM) to just 15 PPM by Sept. 1, 2006.

As if that’s not challenging enough, producers will have to reduce their fuel to about six PPM at the refineries to ensure the fuel doesn’t go off-spec’ along the supply chain.

“Sulfur can be picked up at any handoff point,” says McMahon, noting there are about six handoff points along the supply chain that can each add up to two PPM of sulfur. Handoff points include pipelines, tanks, trucks, rail cars, barges and associated piping.

Non-compliance with the new standard carries fines of up to $1 million and three years in jail, so allowing the fuel to exceed the 15 PPM limit is not something to be taken lightly.

“We can’t afford to be off-spec’,” McMahon insists, adding the six PPM refinery target will be met.

Fleets and owner/operators can expect to see some performance degradation when they begin running ULSD, McMahon admits.

ULSD is expected to be less dense than today’s diesel and lower density results in fuel that has less energy content. As a result, McMahon says drivers will experience a fuel economy loss of 1-1.5 per cent. In addition, the new diesel will have less viscosity which results in a poorer response rates. Drivers may overcompensate for the poor response, further increasing fuel consumption.

Low temperature operability may also be affected, thanks to the increased wax content of the fuel.

Lubricity is another concern among many fleets and owner/operators, but McMahon ensures customers that Petro-Canada will continue meeting the lubricity specifications that regulate the industry.

“In the ULSD world, it is likely that more fuel will require lubricity additive,” she admits. “We will additize all fuel that requires additive to ensure good operability.”

She cautions drivers and maintenance managers against using additives themselves (with the exception of de-icer when necessary).

As for the cost of ULSD, you can expect to pay more for it at the pump. While Petro-Canada officials said it was too early to say how much it will cost, they do have $2.5 billion invested in the research and development of ULSD and you can bet they will have to increase pump prices to account for that. Most industry insiders have suggested a cost increase of one to two cents per litre will be the norm.

In the U.S. this fall, only 80 per cent of diesel will have to be ULSD so drivers will have to take care not to fill up their 2007 trucks with 500 PPM fuel – particularly south of the border.

In Western Canada, Petro-Canada will be offering strictly ULSD. (Regular diesel fuel will continue to be available in Eastern Canada to meet the needs of the heating fuel market). Currently, Petro-Canada’s entire distribution system in the west is set up with the tankage to support just one type of fuel, however, that may not be a bad thing says McMahon.

“Regular sulfur diesel will be available in Western Canada from our competitors and they will have distribution challenges because of that,” she predicts.

PC-10

Going hand-in-hand with ULSD will be a new engine oil spec’, currently called PC-10. You’ll know it as CJ-4, however, when it’s rolled out across the market later this year.

The good news is, while ULSD will contribute towards increased fuel consumption, PC-10 will actually result in improved engine oil performance and most likely extended drain intervals, according to Petro-Canada officials.

Amanda Damen, product specialist, research and development with Petro-Canada Lubricants, says the main goal of PC-10 is to reduce the levels of ash in the oil. While the chief objective of PC-10 is to reduce NOx and PM emissions, Damen says it appears there will be performance enhancements as well.

“This category wasn’t designed as an improvement,” she points out. “The fact we’re getting some benefits as well is a bonus.”

Damen says Petro-Canada will be rolling out the new engine oil specification this October, coinciding with the introduction of the new 2007 engines.

Testing to date has shown PC-10 and ULSD have combined to create a less acidic environment in the engine, resulting in less corrosion and oil consumption. Extended drain intervals should result, she says. Jim Putz, category manager, commercial transportation lubricants, says early field tests are backing up those claims.

Petro-Canada is currently testing PC-10 with a Guelph, Ont.-based fleet running about 20 EGR and non-EGR engines. Test results suggest ULSD creates a less severe operating environment for the engine oil.

“It’s a real mix of engines and typically weights are anywhere between 80,000 lbs and 140,000 lbs,” he explains.

“We’re looking at a higher performing heavy-duty engine oil in terms of soot accumulation and iron wear.”

Putz also points out an SAE paper written in the U.S. shows a 10-20 per cent reduction in soot accumulation using PC-10, while iron wear has been cut in half.

As with ULSD, Damen warns against using oil additives.

“The oil comes in a fully-formulated package and funny things happen in chemistry when you start mixing things,” she says. “You should never add performance type boosters to it because you don’t know what’s going to happen. We’re talking US$1 million to get an engine oil certified, if you start adding things to it all of a sudden that certification goes out the window and you really don’t know what’s going to happen and you start running at your own risk.”


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