February 17, 2017 | Vol. 67, No. 4
Dear PEI Member:
Shortly after the 2006 introduction of ULSD, which lowered on-road diesel’s allowable sulfur content to 15 ppm, PEI began receiving complaints of unusual corrosion in both the wetted and dry surfaces of ULSD storage systems. Since then, the problems have only grown worse. Just last year, a research project led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that a staggering 83 percent of the ULSD systems in the study were experiencing moderate to severe corrosion.
But wait, there’s more.
On Jan. 1, 2017, yet another ultra low sulfur product entered the nation’s vehicle fuel supply chain. This time, it’s gasoline.
The new Tier 3 gasoline standard provides that, with only limited exceptions for small refineries, producers must now limit the maximum annual average of sulfur in their gasoline to 10 ppm. As with ULSD, the change is part of the ongoing effort to lower vehicle emissions.
If lowering sulfur in diesel has led—in one way or another—to increased corrosion, mightn’t the reduction of sulfur in gasoline have similar effects?
It’s a fair question. But, to date, there is no answer. No public research on Tier 3 gasoline and corrosion has been conducted or even announced.
On the hopeful side, at least three factors suggest that Tier 3 gasoline might be less problematic than ULSD.
First is the scale of the sulfur reduction. Since 2004, most of the nation’s refiners have been required to limit their gasoline’s sulfur content to a maximum annual average of 30 ppm. The reduction to 10 ppm sulfur is a less dramatic change than the switch to ULSD, which took diesel from 500 ppm per gallon all the way down to 15 ppm.
Second, although gasoline with 10 ppm sulfur is new to most of the United States, California has mandated a similar formulation—without any apparent problems—for more than 10 years. Japan, South Korea and the EU also have followed 10 ppm sulfur standards for quite some time.
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Third, the ethanol found in 97 percent of the gasoline sold in the United States discourages the development of water bottoms in tanks. And water is the primary breeding ground for the bacteria that most experts believe is responsible for ULSD-related corrosion.
At the same time, any conclusion that the introduction of Tier 3 gasoline will be problem-free is far from a safe bet. More often than not, new fuel introductions in the United States have produced unintended negative consequences. The lead added to gasoline beginning in the 1920s successfully reduced engine knocking, but was so toxic that it had to be abandoned in the 1980s. The widespread use of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) in the 1990s to meet Clean Air Act oxygenation requirements turned out to be a huge problem when the carcinogenic compound was found to be infiltrating and contaminating groundwater. Even today’s ethanol fuel blends have led to unhelpful phase separation and, more recently, troublesome corrosion in sumps.
What will PEI distributors, contractors and their customers see as Tier 3 gasoline is stored, metered and dispensed in ever-increasing quantities? Time will tell. But we hope you will tell us if you and your customers encounter unusual problems with the new fuel.
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Attendees also will benefit greatly from a panel discussion featuring the insights, perspectives and experiences of five extremely accomplished PEI Women members: Chris Blumberg of SouthEastern Petroleum Systems; Paola Bravo of S. Bravo Systems; Marion Long of Walsh, Long & Co.; Joyce Rizzo of JD2 Environmental; and Ann Thomas of Petroleum Marketing Equipment.
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PEI MEMBER NEWS
Ohio LED price display systems manufacturer. Able
Applied Technologies, 1859 Denune Ave., Columbus, OH 43211, has applied for
affiliate division membership. Bryan Davis is responsible for client
relationships for the firm, which was established in 1989. The company
provides price signs and systems across the United States. Sponsored for PEI
membership by David Sindelar, SignRes, Kansas City, Missouri.
China LCD display manufacturer. Blaze Display
Technology Co. Ltd., 5/F, HSAE Tech Building, Hi-Tech Park, Nanshan,
Shenzhen, 518057, China, has applied for affiliate division membership.
Ellen Hu is area sales manager for the firm, which was established in 1982.
The company manufactures LCD display for fuel dispensers. Sponsored for PEI
membership by Ronald Walker, AlliedElec, Bristol, Pennsylvania.
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The TulsaLetter (ISSN 0193-9467) is published two or three times each month by the Petroleum Equipment Institute. Richard C. Long, Editor. Opinions expressed are the opinions of the Editor. Basic circulation confined to PEI members.