Low sulfur diesel fuel (S ≤ 500 ppm) was made available nationwide in 2004, followed by China III fuel (S ≤ 350 ppm) which became available nationwide in 2011.

Regulation GB 17691-2005 [2881] specified emission limits for China III-V stages, but included fuel specifications for the China III stage only. Faced with the lack of official fuel standards to ensure availability of ultra low sulfur fuels that were necessary to enable emission technologies at the China IV/V stages, the Ministry of Environmental Protection adopted regulation GWKB 1.2-2011 which regulated sulfur and polyaromatics as toxics. Selected specifications and availability status are shown in Table 1.

Table 1
Selected Specifications of Diesel Fuel for Motor Vehicles
China IIIChina IVChina V
National Fuel StandardGB 19147–2009GB 19147–2013
Municipal/Regional Fuel StandardsGB 19147–2009DB11/239-2007 (Beijing)
DB31/428-2009 (Shanghai)
DB44/695-2009 (Guangdong)
DB11/239-2012 (Beijing)
Sulfur content, mg/kg≤ 350
(GB 17691-2005)
≤ 50
(GWKB 1.2-2011)
≤ 10
(GWKB 1.2-2011)
Cetane number, min-max50-53
(GB 17691-2005)
(GB 19147-2009)
Polyaromatic hydrocarbons, % (m/m)3-11
(GB 17691-2005)
≤ 11
(GWKB 1.2-2011)
≤ 11
(GWKB 1.2-2011)
≤ 11
(GWKB 1.2-2011)
Implementation Date2013.07 (nationwide)2015.01 (nationwide)
Beijing: 2008
Shanghai: 2009
Shenzen: 2009
Guangzhou: 2009
2017.01 (nationwide)
Beijing: 2012.06
Shanghai: 2013.12
11 Eastern Provinces: 2016.01

There are two national diesel fuel standards in China, GB 19147 for onroad vehicles and GB 252 (general diesel fuel) for other applications including nonroad engines:

  • Onroad Diesel Fuel—For onroad applications, GB 19147-2009 was implemented in stages throughout the country starting in January 2010. GB 19147-2013 for China IV fuel was published in February 2013.

    In 2008, the maximum fuel sulfur limit in several cities was set at 50 ppm (e.g., DB11/239-2007). In 2012, the maximum sulfur limit in Beijing was set at 10 ppm (DB11/239-2012).

    In February 2013, the State Council issued a timetable for its program to upgrade fuel quality nationwide. By the end of 2014, automotive diesel fuel sulfur will be set at 50 ppm (China IV or National IV) and by the end of 2017, sulfur limits for automotive gasoline and automotive diesel will be 10 ppm maximum (China V or National V). Diesel fuel standards for China V were required to be issued by July 2013. In April 2015, the State Council advanced timeline for 10 ppm gasoline and diesel fuel by one year making it available nationwide by January 2017.

  • General Diesel Fuel—For other applications such as trailers, locomotives with internal combustion engines, construction machinery, vessels, generator sets, 3-wheelers and low-speed trucks, national fuel standard GB 252 is available. GB 252-2011 set the sulfur limit at 0.2% until June 30, 2013 and 0.035% starting July 1, 2013. In April 2015, the State Council set the limit to 50 ppm starting In July 1, 2017, and 10 ppm starting January 1, 2018.

There are also several municipal and provincial diesel fuel standards.