All countries of the European Union placed high on the latest International Fuel Quality Center rankings, largely due to tax incentives put into place years ago. Fuels are taxed much higher in the EU. The United States is 41st on the International Fuel Quality Center list. The center's Liisa Kiuru says although Europe is ahead in reducing global diesel sulfur for cleaner-burning fuel, there's a growing awareness in North America.
"Europe is geared more towards producing diesel, whereas in the U.S. it's geared more towards producing gasoline. However, on the diesel side there's been some great strides made and ULSD or ultra-low sulfur diesel is actually widely available across the country already and there's been some great strides made in terms of also introducing new technology that lowers the emissions from diesel vehicles even further."
Diesel desulfurization dramatically improves tailpipe emissions by allowing for the use of advanced after-treatment systems.
"The first step obviously happens in the refineries, and that's where the sulfur level is determined. And then depending on the type of fuel that is used, that has an effect on what kind of vehicle technology or after treatment technology can be used and you can then further reduce even the emissions. The cleaner the fuel, it will enable newer technology that will even further reduce emissions."
Kiuru says the clean diesel fuels and engines of today continue to change the perception of diesel as a "dirty fuel."