“Green fuel” revolution for automobiles was gaining its momentum when the United States introduced unleaded petrol as early as 1971.
Malaysia began to regulate the reduction in lead content of the nation's petrol supply in 1985 and further reduction was enforced in 1990. Nine year later, in 1999, the nation petrol supply was declared totally unleaded.
It took some 14 years before the harmful leaded fuel was removed from the nation supply network.
One primary consideration for the gradual removal of leaded fuel from the market was the existence of vehicles that were dependent on leaded fuel for their propulsion's, particularly those engines that used lead to enhance octane ratings and help with wear and tear on valve seats within the engine.
While unleaded fuel supply infrastructure and network were being organised automotive manufacturers were intensifying their production of unleaded engines for their vehicles.
Gradually the unleaded vehicles were replacing the leaded ones and during the period of fourteen years the leaded cars and fuel ceased to exist in the country.
Similarly, European nations began to implement the Euro 1 standard in 1994 replacing their leaded fuel with the unleaded version, with an additional requirement of fitting the universal catalytic converters to their petrol cars to reduce carbon monoxide (CO) emissions.
The European Community began their focus on limiting carbon monoxide emissions of vehicles through the implementation of Euro 2 fuel standards in 1996.
Euro 2 also initiated the emission limitation for other environmentally harmful gaseous such as unburned hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen for both petrol and diesel vehicles.
Substantial reduction of sulfur contents in fuels were also regulated under Euro 2 limiting the content to a maximum of 500ppm for diesel engine.
Sulfur is naturally present in fuels. Sulfur combines with water vapor that formed during engine combustion transforming into sulfuric acid which is emitted into the atmosphere though the vehicles exhaust.
The corrosive compound of sulfuric acid is not only harmful to the engine parts, its emission is a major environmental pollutant returning to earth in the form of “acid rain”. This contaminated rainwater is now recognized to have destroyed or degrading vast agriculture land.
Thus Euro 2 marked the beginning of a major part of vehicles emission control programs on removing sulfur from vehicle fuels in many nations.
Implemented in 2000, Euro 3 stipulated further reduction in sulfur contents for diesel and petrol set at 350ppm and 150ppm respectively. Further reductions of the above mentioned harmful gaseous were also enforced.
Euro 4 and Euro 5 fuels standards were respectively implemented in 2005 and 2009 ensuring further reduction in sulfur contents of 10ppm and harmful gaseous emission in vehicles.
As of September this year, all new petrol and diesel cars sold in Europe must meet the Euro 6 standards, imposing a further 67 per cent reduction in Nitrogen Oxides exhaust emissions compared to that of Euro 5 for diesel engines, which is a significant challenge for many automotive manufacturers to fulfill.
Malaysia motorists have been accustomed to Euro 2 diesel fuel since 2009.
In 2014 some 13 stations in the southern part of Malaysia began to sell Euro 5 diesel marking the beginning of high end fuel quality entering the country.
Beginning August, Euro 5 diesels will be available in Klang Valley and nationwide in the third quarter of this year.
The introduction of Euro 5 diesel fuel into the local scene is integral with the Energy Efficient Vehicle (EEV) policy as outlined in the National Automotive Policy (NAP) 2014.
To achieve the engine efficiency and emission levels required of EEVs fuel quality is absolutely important.