Know the 'better' diesel

It has been nearly two years since the Euro 5 diesel was first locally introduced. But you may still have questions and doubts about the fuel. Here are the FAQs on it:

BHPetrol was the first petroleum company to offer Euro 5-grade fuel in Malaysia, with the launch of Infiniti Euro5 Diesel on Nov 2014. Since then, the company has shared with the public on what the fuel is all about. If you missed it, read on.

What does Euro5 mean?

Euro5 refers to the European exhaust emission standards which came into effect in Europe in Sept 2009. These standards set limits on the emission of unhealthy pollutants from the exhaust system of motor vehicles.

How does Euro5 diesel differ from Euro2M diesel currently sold in Malaysia?

The main difference is that Euro5 diesel contains only 10ppm* of sulphur compared to 500ppm for Euro2M. It is therefore a much cleaner fuel which produces lower emissions for a cleaner environment. As a significantly higher grade diesel, it also extends engine life and improves fuel efficiency.

Sulphur in diesel creates particulate matter (PM) during combustion and the continued generation of PM causes health issues. In addition to environmental and health issues, the sulphur in the fuel also contributes to increased acid levels in the engine that can cause damage to engine and emission control systems. The presence of sulphur in the engine exhaust gases limits the effectiveness of many exhaust after-treatment technologies, resulting in higher emissions of other pollutants.

(*parts per million)

What other aspects of Euro5 diesel differ from the present Euro2M diesel presently sold in Malaysia?

With each new standard, the focus has been on the reduction of the toxic elements in the exhaust gases which are produced as by-products of combustion in the engine. One of the main toxic elements that is targeted for reduction at each step has been NOx or oxides of nitrogen which are poisonous.

For petrol, the difference in the permissible level of NOx is 250mg/km for the Euro2 standard but for the Euro5 standard, it is 60mg/km. For diesel, the permissible level is 730mg/km but the tougher Euro5 standard sets a limit of 180mg/km.

Additionally, the Euro5 standard also sets limits on PM for diesel engines. This is the black soot that is visible which pollutes the environment. Under the Euro2M standard, the PM level was set at 100mg/km but when upgrading to Euro5, it must not be more than 5mg/km, or 20 times less. The significant reduction required is achieved by the use of a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) which can capture up to 95% of the PM generated by the engine.

Which countries already apply the Euro5 standard?

The standard was introduced in Europe in 2009 and has been upgraded to Euro6 this year. Other countries are moving towards Euro5 in phases but it is dependent on the supply of fuel which has to be of a higher quality. In the Asean region, Singapore is the only country which has moved to Euro5 for diesel since January 2014.

Can Euro5 diesel alone enable an engine to comply with the Euro5 emissions standard?

No. On its own, fuel that has low sulphur levels may not enable an engine to meet the Euro5 emissions standard. The engine itself (along with the exhaust system) must also be designed to meet the higher standards. If the engine was originally designed to meet Euro2 standards, the use of Euro5 fuel might not meet the Euro5 emission standard.

Will the lower sulphur in Euro5 diesel affect engine performance?

Sulphur, like lead (now banned from fuel), has long been used for lubricity, to reduce the friction between the moving parts inside an engine. Lowering friction is important for fuel efficiency as well as reducing damage to the parts.

If the sulphur was reduced without compensation by other means, then the efficiency of the engine would become worse.

However, there are various additives which are available which can also improve on the lubricity so that efficiency is maintained or even improved.

With BHPetrol fuels, the advanced package of German additives is fully designed for Euro5 diesel. It includes such components that enhance lubricity. In fact, even now, the additive dosage in BHPetrol fuels (petrol and diesel) is double that recommended by the supplier of additives for extra performance.

The advanced German additives have been proven to provide not just a good balance of performance and fuel economy but also enable better mileage. This is achieved through various factors such as reduction of internal friction and more effective cleansing and prevention of deposit formation.

If a diesel engine wasn’t designed to Euro5 standards, will using Euro5 diesel help the vehicle comply with emission regulations?

The best results will be achieved if both the fuel and the engine meet Euro5 emission standards. Lower rated engines will compromise on the fuel’s performance.

Additionally, there are also issues of the engine maintenance and tuning which are especially vital where diesel engines are concerned. Poor tuning will result in more exhaust emissions and black smoke which will certainly be against the regulations.

Will using Euro5 diesel be bad for older engines?

No, older engines will not have any problems. Unlike the time when lead was removed and certain old engines had problems, the reduction of sulphur can be easily compensated with the use of the right additives. In fact, running on diesel of higher quality with less sulphur might even be better for all engines as they can run cleaner.

Is there any negative effect if low sulphur Euro5 diesel is mixed with Euro2M diesel that has a higher sulphur content?

No, there should not be any effect other than that the mixed fuel would have a lower sulphur content than Euro2M.

How will increased availability of Euro5 diesel benefit Malaysian motorists in the long run?

If diesel of higher quality, ie Euro5 diesel, is made available widely, it will encourage car companies to offer their latest diesel vehicles with advanced modern engines that run more efficiently, generate very low levels of toxic pollutants and can give a range of as much as or more than 1,000km on a tankful (depending on the model).

Such advanced diesel engines cannot run well on the present Euro2M diesel as its higher sulphur content will cause problems, making it inconvenient for owners.

FAQ answers courtesy of BHPetrol.