BS-6 fuel confirmed in Delhi/ NCR by April 1 2018: What it means for your car, two-wheeler and pollution?

A few weeks ago, the supreme court asked the Ministry of Petroleum and National gas as to whether they were on track to make BS6 fuel available in the capital as early as April 2018. Now, the Government has responded via an affidavit that says that BS6 fuel will be available in pumps as of the 1st of April 2018(Almost two years ahead of the rest of the nation).

By: | Updated: February 22, 2018 1:14 PM

A few weeks ago, the supreme court asked the Ministry of Petroleum and National gas as to whether they were on track to make BS6 fuel available in the capital as early as April 2018. Now, the Government has responded via an affidavit that says that BS6 fuel will be available in pumps as of the 1st of April 2018(Almost two years ahead of the rest of the nation). Now as to whether or not, this fuel will be available exclusively or the shift will be gradual is unclear. Now on the face of it, it may seem like a solution to the national capitals  pollution worries, but is it ? The big uestion that is unanswered thus far is what happens when you use a car that is not rated for BS6 fuel ?

Meanwhile, the condition worsens in the capital with pollution levels soaring, and particulate matter filling the air and subsequently our lungs. The Delhi government, has, in the past, struggled to come to terms with a solution and hence, the odd-even rule returned as an idea despite not being a particularly effective tool to combat pollution.  That is because limiting the number of private vehicles on the road does halve the emissions that they emit since private four-wheelers only contribute to 10% of the total vehicular pollution. Bringing that down to 5% isn't going to make a really big difference to the poor air quality of Delhi. Now the NGT and the government went at loggerheads arguing about who all should be included in the rule and who shouldn't. The government, meanwhile shifted its sights to the fuels being used in vehicles as yesterday the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas announced that they would fast-track the availability of BS6 fuel in the Nation’s capital, bringing the new-gen fuel by April 1, 2018, instead of the pan-India rollout target of 2020.  NCR and region around the national capital would need to be ready for the new-gen BSVI fuel by April 2019. Now while the move has been widely applauded, there are a few voices in the automotive industry that say this shift is not going to make much of a difference, especially in terms of the pollution that’s plaguing the NCR with the onset of winter.

Now the shift from BS4 to BS6 is not going to bring about a huge change in vehicles running on petrol including two-wheelers. A similar shift for diesel vehicles might still have some effects as the new diesel will have an even lower allowance for sulphur when you compare it to the BS4 fuel, which was earlier allowed 550 parts per million(PPM) of Sulphur. Most current fuels that get the “low sulphur tag” carry only about 50 PPM. BSVI Diesel will require carrying only about 10 PPM of sulphur. Now naturally, this makes the fuel a lot cleaner than it is in terms of pollutants emitted, especially when you think of the fact that diesel is so commonly used. The problems begin when one begins to consider the implications of running a low-sulphur fuel on a BS 4 fuel rated engine which is designed to run with up to 550 PPM of Sulphur.

Sulphur helps the injectors in a diesel engine, thanks to its chemical lubrication properties. Low sulphur fuels will damage and cause wear to injectors, and with damaged injectors, fuel may flood or not reach the engine with the correct pressure through the injectors. And more unburnt fuel subsequently contributes to more emission. Which means that after beating our way entirely around the bush we are at square one. Aside from a few German luxury vehicles and Bharat-Benz trucks, no other vehicles in India are really prepared for the switch to BS6. Which means that engines will be damaged while pollution remains essentially the same. Bringing this entire movement and all the hype around it to moot.

BS-VI prepared cars, on the other hand, ll also face adverse effects when using BS4 fuels, even though their injectors and electronics will be updated to run on low sulphur, the added diesel particulate matter filter in the exhaust is likely to run out much faster on BS4 fuels. Which means that once again, the automotive industry has to choose between the devil and the deep blue sea on the basis of a government ruling. While no real quantifiable change will come through this switch.

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