COLUMBUS, Ind. — Any concern the launch of ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) would have to be further delayed was put to rest recently by US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen L. Johnson.
For the switchover to be viable the EPA required production of ULSD to equal 80% of daily consumption.
“Production has risen to 2.4 million barrels per day, that’s the equivalent of more than 90% of daily consumption,” said Johnson. “The fuel industry has greatly exceeded the minimum requirements.”
Cummins played host as the EPA administrator formally kicked off the nationwide switch to ULSD fuel, which takes effect Oct. 15. The announcement brought out a sense of pride from Johnson, as he noted ULSD is the single greatest advancement in fuel since lead was removed from gasoline 25 years ago.
Lower sulfur levels in the fuel are crucial to achieving reduced emissions. Sulfur hinders exhaust-control devices in diesel engines, much like leaded gasoline hampered the effectiveness of catalytic converters in gas-powered vehicles.
Jim Kelly, Cummins Engine Business president, and John Wall, chief technical officer, led the administrator on a tour of Cummins test facilities where the group received a firsthand look at work being done to prepare Cummins to meet the 2007 emissions standards.
“Achieving the new lower emissions levels would not have been possible without ULSD. This cleaner fuel allows Cummins and others to produce engines that are capable of meeting the new standards without sacrificing performance and reliability,” noted Kelly.
ULSD, which contains 97% less sulfur than previous diesel blends, is a critical component of efforts by diesel engine makers to meet stringent new EPA emissions regulations that go into effect Jan. 1, 2007.
ULSD will reduce vehicle emissions from any diesel-powered vehicle by 10%. When used in combination with the new generation of diesel engines, emissions will be reduced by 90% as compared to current engines. A new 2007 diesel truck will emit one-sixtieth of the soot produced by a truck made in 1988.
During the first year of its availability, to ensure the integrity of ULSD stays below 15 ppm, the EPA will be working in conjunction with diesel producers to survey more than 6,000 retail locations.
Fuel and engine improvements are required by law and the new requirements have been more than a decade in the making. The policy involved collaboration between regulators, oil refiners, engine manufacturers and public health advocates in an effort to achieve a cost effective solution.
Johnson indicated the price of ULSD will rise as compared to current diesel, but insisted it would stay below a five cent premium.
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