The U.S. placed ninth overall in the recent global ranking of countries based on sulfur limits in their national clean gasoline standards.
The International Fuel Quality Center (IFQC) has ranked the top 100 countries based on sulfur limits in gasoline; Germany was found to be at the top of the ranking with the lowest sulfur limits. Following in second and third were Japan and Sweden, respectively. If California was a country, it would have ranked along with these top achievers.
"Focus on sulfur reduction for clean burning gasoline has increased dramatically since 2000," said Liisa Kiuru, executive director, IFQC. "Desulfurization is now expanding beyond on-road fuels. Discussions are already underway regarding further reduction of sulfur limits in marine fuels and increasing the number of sulfur emission controlled areas in EU and US waters, for example."
Sulfur is a compound found naturally in crude oil; as a result, it passes into refined products such as transportation fuels when crude is processed at the refinery. When sulfur is emitted into the air as a result of fuel combustion, its compounds have negative environmental and health effects. Environmental damage to forests, crops and water supplies can also result from long-term high sulfur emissions, which contribute acid rain. Gasoline desulfurization improves engine efficiency and leads to reduced overall emissions of not just sulfur itself, but also hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen oxides (NOx).
Industry and policymakers around the world have placed emphasis on reducing sulfur limits in fuels for decades now, but variations in those limits remain. Overall, the majority of countries around the world are moving toward low sulfur fuels.
"Germany's number one ranking is especially noteworthy because the country's move to sulfur-free gasoline was influenced by tax incentives two years before legislation was introduced in 2005," Kiuru said. "That is a tremendous accomplishment and one that Japan has also mirrored."
All EU countries placed within the top 50; nearly 100% market penetration of "sulfur-free" (less than 10ppm) fuels is expected in the EU by 2009, furthering the region's role as a leader in clean fuels. Some of the oil-rich nations like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) also ranked in the top 50 for low sulfur limits in gasoline (Qatar 46th and UAE 41st). Other noteworthy rankings in the top 100 include Mexico (54th) and Venezuela (84th), China (53rd), India (55th) and Indonesia (76th).
On the other hand, some countries such as Brazil and Malaysia have made great strides in the development of biofuels, but neither of these countries made it as one of the top 100 countries with the lowest sulfur limits in gasoline. At the bottom of the ranking, six nations from Africa, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Middle East were tied for last place.
"I think it is fair to say that both low-sulfur gasoline and diesel fuel are now friends of the refining industry, automakers and the public at large," said Frederick L. Potter, executive vice president, Hart Energy Publishing, LLP. "With the advent of low sulfur gasoline and diesel fuel, gasoline and diesel's global position as environmentally improved fuels is here to stay." The complete tables ranking the top 100 countries can be found on the IFQC's Web site at http://www.ifqc.org .