30 July 1999

German government announced it will launch low-sulfur automotive fuels in 2001, four years earlier than planned under European Union legislation. The economics ministry said it had been working on a tax cut system on gasoline and diesel containing less than 50 ppm of sulfur.

The ministry also said that Germany would campaign for the EU to limit sulfur content to 10 ppm over the longer term.

The fuel will meet, ahead of time, the 2005 European Union fuel specifications (Directive 98/70/EC). For diesel fuel, these specifications are: minimum cetane number of 51 (year 2000), maximum sulfur content of 350 ppm in 2000 and 50 ppm in 2005. Current EU fuel specs are maximum 500 ppm sulfur and cetane number of 49.

The main advantage from reducing the sulfur content is increased performance and durability of emission control systems on both gasoline and diesel engines. Low sulfur fuel also opens the way for new diesel emission control technologies. These sulfur intolerant technologies include CRT particulate trap, commercially available from Johnson Matthey, and lean-NOx trap-catalyst systems, under development by all major catalyst makers. Several thousand of CRT trap systems have been installed in Sweden and in the UK, where diesel fuels of 10 ppm sulfur content are available.