Meeting the challenge

| January 23, 2007

“The fuel tanks and dispensers will be identified with a large, green label,” McKenna says.

Interestingly, some manufacturers claim that even a full tank of LSD put in by accident would increase emissions for a while but cause no permanent damage to the DPF, while others believe a high dose of LSD with its sulfur could cause damage. Those who are more concerned about LSD make clear that they will not repair damage caused by the sulfur under warranty. Plus, EPA regulations prohibit use of LSD in a truck with a DPF.

All the oil companies will be making mostly ULSD, since they are required to be able to produce 80 percent of on-road fuel as ULSD. Many fleets will be purchasing 2007 trucks and will need to use ULSD and the new CJ-4 oil to meet EPA guidelines while ensuring maximum engine life. Since fleets usually standardize on items like oil and fuel to simplify shop operations and driver training, as soon as a significant number of trucks with DPFs are sold, there will be a large shift to CJ-4 oil. As of Jan. 1, 2010, all on-highway diesel fuel must be ULSD, anyway.

All the engine oil refiners will be making CJ-4 because of the significant demand created by fleets purchasing trucks with the new engines and wanting to use the same oil in all their trucks. Shell has actually discontinued selling CI-4 except in bulk.

As of the end of October, production of LSD was hovering just above 23 percent of the total for on-highway diesel fuel. Al Mannato, the American Petroleum Institute’s fuels issues manager, says that, while API does not keep track of how many truckstops sell each fuel, truckers should find that availability generally mirrors the percentages of production. Oil refiners are constantly attempting to adjust their production to the market demand, so the production numbers actually depend on you the buyer.

Mannato claims there have been no major shortages of the new fuel, even though distributors’ tank trucks may sometimes have to travel farther to get it. Peak demand in the Corn Belt occurs around late fall because of all the fuel used to harvest crops, so supplies normally improve as winter sets in. So even if you’ve had occasional trouble finding the fuel you want, things should improve.

The Facts on ULSD
The EPA required that at least 80 percent of the on-highway diesel oil companies supply to their distributors be ULSD by June 1, 2006. All truckstops carrying ULSD, and that means most of them, needed to meet the specification by Oct. 15, 2006.

What’s different about this fuel? The crude oil that comes out of the ground naturally has sulfur in it. Refining crude into diesel fuel takes some of the sulfur out. The sulfur limit for the new fuel has dropped from the 500 parts per million allowed for the earlier fuel (low-sulfur diesel), used since 1992, to 15 parts per million.

The ULSD picks up some trace amounts of sulfur as it passes through the pipelines, so the refineries must change their processes enough to get the fuel down to about 8 parts per million to make sure the ultra-low stuff still meets the standard when it gets to the pump.

By Jan. 1, 2010, all on-highway diesel fuel must be ULSD.

Advantages of ULSD
When it comes to fuel, it’s like anything else: You get what you pay for. Your oil does many different things, one of which is to neutralize acids, just like Alka-Seltzer or Tums. Acid in your oil will do a very quick number on the bearings by softening up the metal, so running down the road makes them wear like mad.

You may have heard of an additive called TBN or “Total Base Number” in the oil. TBN provides alkalinity, which, while not damaging at all to the engine, is chemically the opposite of acid and neutralizes or cancels out its effect.

Most of the acid in the oil is sulfuric acid from the sulfur in the fuel. Bottom line: Removing so much sulfur from the fuel is good for the oil because there will be much less acid that the oil has to deal with.

Comments are closed. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.