Low Sulphur Diesel vs Regular Diesel

Diesel is a popular fuel choice for industries across the spectrum, including the motor vehicle industry, mining and in agriculture. And, with recent technological advances and the ever-increasing awareness of climate change and carbon emissions, products like low sulphur diesel have emerged. Find out why…

SA Oil talks low sulphur diesel vs regular diesel

What is Regular Diesel?

Regular diesel, or standard grade diesel, was the most commonly used diesel prior to low sulphur diesel production. Like petrol, diesel is distilled from crude oil and refined until it is ‘clean’ enough to use in engines. Regular diesel has a 500ppm (parts per million) sulphur content, which is currently the highest sulphur content diesel sold commercially in South Africa, due to the negative effects of sulphur – an unavoidable element found in most fuels when they are refined.

What is Low Sulphur Diesel?

As the adverse side effects of having a high sulphur content in fuel became known, great effort was made to produce an even ‘cleaner’ diesel than the 500ppm diesel. 50ppm Diesel is now the most broadly used diesel across South Africa, in many other African countries and abroad, where available, and is used in standard road vehicles as well as vehicles with heftier workloads, like mine excavators and trucks. This product has a wide variety of benefits for the diesel engine in which it burns, and it alleviates some of the pressure placed on the environment through lower sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions.

What is Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel?

The creation of low sulphur diesel paved the way for ultra-low sulphur diesel, which has an incredibly minimal sulphur content of between 15- and 10ppm. Ultra-low sulphur diesel allowed further emissions control technologies to come to fruition, lowering harmful emissions of sulphur dioxide and fine particulate matter (PM), providing even greater benefits to diesel engines of all sizes as well as benefiting the environment, as it is 97% cleaner than other diesels.

Why Low Sulphur Diesel

The Department of Minerals and Energy changed legislation regarding the refining and selling of diesel in South Africa in 2006, resulting in 500ppm and 50ppm diesel being the only available diesel for purchase at commercial pumps. The change was introduced around the same time as in the US, though diesel of this grade had already replaced high sulphur diesels in Europe. Vehicles imported from Europe, therefore, had newer technology engines that could no longer use the standard 500ppm diesel, giving cause for the 50ppm diesel in South Africa and its neighbours that also imported vehicles from Europe. Another reason for the change was the increasing awareness of climate change, global warming, carbon emissions and the harsh effects on the environment. Low sulphur diesel was quickly adopted first into the retail fuel industry, followed not long after by larger, more industrialised trades such as mining, agriculture and shipping. 

Low Sulphur Diesel for Vehicles

Purchasing vehicles with diesel engines became a more viable option for motorists when the fuel underwent its reform, coming out the other side cleaner and posing less harm to your car. Although all diesel engine cars benefit from low sulphur diesel, new technology vehicles especially cannot use the older, standard grade diesel due to factors like its high sulphur content. The more refined diesel offered better lubrication, less wear and tear on the engine, greater fuel efficiency and lower maintenance costs, whereas previously, those driving vehicles with diesel engines experienced extremely high repair costs when things went awry.

Low Sulphur Diesel and the Environment

The other, perhaps more important, benefit of low sulphur diesel is the greatly decreased emission of sulphur dioxide and particulate matter, which plays a major role in air pollution, city smog, and even acid rain. The latter in this list of very serious environmental impacts is by far the most scary, due to acid rain’s ability to contaminate entire bodies of drinkable water, pollute soil used for agriculture, and pose a threat to animals living in aquatic habitats such as lakes and rivers.

Low Sulphur Diesel for Industry

Larger vehicles, such as tractors and mining equipment, also began making use of the low sulphur diesel – for its wide variety of benefits, but also because of the improvements and technological advancements made to their engines – and industry leaders enjoy greater efficiency from their machinery at lower costs. This diesel also helps extend engine life, meaning machinery can operate better for longer – a huge benefit in high-cost industries such as mining or farming.

Low Sulphur Diesel from Reputable Suppliers

In line with industry standard, SA Oil stores, supplies and sells 50ppm diesel across South Africa, and to neighbouring countries, as well as to mines, agricultural areas and to manufacturing facilities of all sizes. We are also able to supply 10ppm diesel, serving those who require the ultra-low sulphur variant, to Southern Africa. Get in touch with us to find out more…