Sulfur levels of lead-free gasoline will be reduced to 150 parts per million (ppm) in a revised gas standard set by the Chinese government. The move would help improve air quality an environmental official said.
The revised lead-free gas standard to be announced by the end of the year will push gas with sulfur levels of 500 ppm out of the market by December 31, 2009, said Li Xinmin, deputy director of the pollution control department of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), at a symposium on automobile pollution control.
The new standard would meet the Euro-III emission norm which constrains sulfur levels to 150 ppm maximum. "Automobile emissions have become a major factor in urban pollution," Li said.
Statistics from the SEPA show China produced almost 6.21 million cars in the first ten months this year and it’s expected the country's automobile output will exceed seven million for the whole year.
In the first half of 2006 sulfur dioxide emissions increased by 4.2 percent from the same period a year earlier.
Sinopec, the China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation, one of the country’s major petroleum companies has announced plans to invest 30 billion yuan (US$3.75 billion) in reducing sulfur levels in gasoline.
Xu Hui, deputy director of Sinopec's technology development department, said some companies were already capable of producing gas with sulfur levels less than 150 ppm.
It would take a lot of effort to meet the new standard, Li Xinmin said, adding that currently only gas provided in Beijing and Guangzhou had low sulfur levels.
Xu said gas producers would find it difficult to reduce sulfur levels as they were high in imported crude oil. On average it stood at 1.11 percent of the oil imported by Sinopec in the first ten months whereas sulfur levels of imported oil in 1999 was just 0.17 percent.
The high sulfur level of crude oil would pose a challenge to making clean auto fuel, Xu said.
China banned the sale of gasoline containing lead in July 2000. Experts estimate the move reduced lead emissions by 1,500 tons each year.
(Xinhua News Agency December 8, 2006)