BP launches first ever sulphur-free petrol and diesel in UK

BP has announced the launch of sulphur-free unleaded and sulphur-free diesel fuel, which had their global launch at 18 service stations in Edinburgh on 18 February.

The new fuels are claimed to be the “cleanest petrol and diesel fuels available in the UK”. They contain a barely-detectable 10ppm of sulphur, which, as sulphur dioxide in exhaust emissions, contributes to the production of acid rain. The fuels will also minimise the production of particulates.

BP is producing the new fuels at its Grangemouth refinery in east Scotland, the only refinery in the UK with the latest state-of-the-art hydrocracking technology.

EU legislation is set to demand that sulphur-free fuels are “readily available” from 2005, and on sale at all service stations by 2008. To boost the move, the EU has set far more stringent emission limits for new vehicles manufactured from 2004.

Motorists will also benefit from sulphur-free fuels, as they will enable catalytic converters to perform more efficiently. BP has also added ingredients to optimise performance and fuel economy. The fuels are being sold at the same price as BP’s existing ultra-low sulphur diesel and petrol, which were introduced in 1999 and 2000 respectively.

BP has also reached an agreement with the First Group in Edinburgh to supply it with the zero-sulphur fuel for its 260 buses on routes in the city and the surrounding Lothian region from Glasgow to Dunbar.

“BP is committed to developing fuels that maximise performance but minimise exhaust emissions,” said Graham Sims, who heads BP Retail in the UK. “We are working in all aspects of our industry towards lowering emissions for the future, and believe that people share our commitment to a cleaner environment through choosing cleaner fuels. Edinburgh is just the first step.”

He added: “While these new Sulphur Free fuels increase complexity in terms of logistics and refining, they reinforce Grangemouth’s position at the forefront of clean fuels manufacture.”

Scotland’s deputy Minister for Enterprise, Transport and Lifelong Learning, Lewis Macdonald, said: “I am delighted that BP have launched this new, more environmentally friendly fuel and that they have chosen the Edinburgh area in which to do so. The Scottish Executive is committed to improving the environment in which we live and work and this initiative by BP is an excellent example to all industries.”

The UK’s Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions also welcomed the new fuel. “This will help make Edinburgh a cleaner city. But sulphur free fuels are not just good for the local environment,” said Under-Secretary of State for Transport David Jamieson. “They also open the way for new vehicle technologies like GDI, which will give better fuel efficiency as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions. I look forward to sulphur free fuels becoming available to more and more motorists.”

GDI engines (a Mitsubishi trademark) are based on lean-burn technology, and are the most fuel-efficient petrol engines on the market, producing less CO2 than other types. GDI engines start significantly faster than conventional engines because petrol is injected directly into the cylinder during the compression stroke. When the spark plug ignites the mixture at the end of the compression stroke, initial combustion is achieved at about one sixth of a revolution compared to between 1 and 1.5 revolutions in a standard engine.

Eliminating sulphur emissions will also allow car manufacturers to develop ‘De-NOx’ technology for exhausts, which would reduce smog-producing nitrogen oxide emissions.

BP’s interest in the environment has also led it to develop an ‘eco-site’ in Hornchurch, London, which is due to open this month and is powered entirely by renewable energy.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie