Is it worth my while to select Ultra Low Grade Diesel (50ppm) for my vehicle, or is this simply clever marketing?
I am the proud owner of a family heirloom – a 1996 Land Rover. I spent most of my childhood bouncing around on the backseat of the Landy.
I commute to work between Stellenbosch and Somerset West on a daily basis. I love driving around in my old tank; but as a more informed student, I have been forced to become aware of my fuel consumption and the environmental impact of my diesel vehicle. I needed to investigate and explore means of decreasing my carbon footprint. I invite you to embark on a search with me as I investigate greener driving.
I discovered that in January 2006 a new diesel was introduced into South Africa, Low Grade Sulphur Diesel (50ppm), as opposed to the regular Standard Grade Diesel (500ppm).
All diesels contain sulphur; it is a natural part of the crude oil derivative. It is also the prime contributor to vehicular air pollution. I have seen the black smoke engulf the car behind me as I pull away from a stop and I am so conscious when driving past pedestrians about poisonous gas I emit.
So it was time to investigate the issue of how to drive greener with a diesel vehicle.
Wearing away your vehicle & the earth
Diesel with higher sulphur content not only damages the environment, but also wears away at your engine. The sulphates formed in the exhaust produce fine particulate matter (FPM) emissions which lead to bad air quality. These sulphates also lead to acid rain which is harmful to the environment and people. Lower sulphur fuel burns cleaner and reduces FPM emissions in all diesel engines, regardless of hardware installed.
High sulphur content leads to corrosion and wear of engine components, like the injector and its pumps. The sulphuric acid and nitrogen oxides are by-products of combustion and contaminate the crank oil. It also corrodes engine components, resulting in increased maintenance costs. Modern diesel cars made post 2006 only run on Low Grade Diesel, and have a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) installed, which is a self-cleaning, emission reducing device and cuts emissions by 90%. But with appropriate maintenance, the DPF is also compatible with older diesel engine models.
The benefits of Lower Grade Diesel:
- Higher Cetane Count (now increased from 50 to 57) influences the engines starting ability.
- Increased Detergent Additives prevent clogging on injector nozzles and lowers fuel consumption.
- Super Oxidation Inhibitors lessen fuel degradation and propensity to form deposits.
- Lubricant Enhancers & Anti-wear Additives protect fuel pumps and injectors, improve injector life and extend fuel system service life.
- Anti-Corrosion increases protection against corrosion in fuel tanks and pipe lines.
- Environmentally friendly as removes up to 90 % of carbon emissions.
These help to improve fuel economy, reduce emissions, reduce fuel degradation and extend the engine life.
Win-win all the way
I have made the change to Low Grade Diesel and my conscience is more at ease. It is not 100% green, as some carbon is still emitted; but it is a step in the right direction.
It does not take much out of your day to change to Low Grade Diesel. In fact, after becoming conscious of the Low Grade Sulphur Diesel, I started seeing it at most fuel stations I visit. It is available at big service stations (see table below). Distribution is based on demand so please enquire at your nearest retailer and distribution will be adjusted accordingly. This is very important – this is the power of the consumer to change the world.
Table source: NAAMSA
50ppm diesel does cost more per litre than 500ppm diesel; but in the long run works out cheaper due to reduced maintenance costs and a smaller impact on the environment. Lower Grade costs 7.4 cents more, but the final price is determined by the retailers.
I also uncovered that due to hydrodesulphurisation (reducing the sulphur content); there is a loss of lubrication in the diesel. I sought out possible solutions to compensate for this effect.
Find that eco additive
When switching from 500ppm diesel to 50ppm diesel a lubricant additive is recommended to minimize effects of the change. This is the recommended eco additive:
- Add B100 into fuel (100% biofuel)
I found the following product which is used as an additive in America and is listed as green under the Environmental Protection Agency: Wynn’s DieselPro #A6301. An alternative to this is manufactured in South Africa, but is still awaiting green certification. So the search is on for certified green products. Watch this space.
The choice between 50ppm and 500ppm diesel is a simple one. The next time you refuel – try Low Grade Diesel.
By Soninke Combrinck