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Delhi smog: BS-VI fuel in BS-IV engines may not curb vehicle pollution much

If both the engine and fuel are not equipped, then the engine will get damaged while pollution will remain the same

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

Vehicles plying at a road in smog, in New Delhi on Wednesday morning. Photo: PTI
File photo: Vehicles plying at a road amidst Delhi smog

In a move to tackle high pollution levels in Delhi, the government on Wednesday preponed the introduction of ultra-clean Euro-VI grade petrol and diesel in the national capital by two years to April 2018. However, according to media reports, if the BS-IV engine is not upgraded to BS-VI as well, then it is unlikely to reduce vehiclular pollution. 

Private four-wheelers add to 10 per cent of the total vehicular pollution.

Illegal crop burning in the neighbouring states coupled with vehicular and industrial emissions has caused a sharp deterioration in the air quality in Delhi beginning earlier this month along with the onset of winter. 

Noting that oil refiners are making huge investments in fuel upgradation to produce the required BS-VI grade fuels, the government said it had decided to "leapfrog directly from BS-IV to BS-VI grade by 1st April, 2020, skipping BS-V altogether". The BS-IV grade transportation fuels were rolled out across the country from April 1, 2017.
The government also effectively enforced the order to remove old BS-II and earlier vintage vehicles from plying in the national capital, saying it would greatly reduce the contribution of vehicular pollution in the region. (More details

All you need to know about BS-VI fuel:

  • The existing BS-IV fuel has 50 parts per million (ppm) sulphur while the upcoming BS-VI will contain a low 10 ppm. Due to the chemical lubrication properties of sulphur, the injectors in a diesel engine emit low particulate matter into the atmosphere.
  • Emission from diesel cars and nitrogen oxide levels are expected to get substantially lower than it did with BS-IV.
  • According to a report by Firstport, only German luxury vehicles and Bharat-Benz trucks are equipped to switch to BS-VI fuel. 
  • BS-VI fuel can only function efficiently on BS-VI engines. If one allows this fuel to run on BS-IV engines, the point of curbing vehicular pollution may turn ineffective, in addition to ruining the engine. 
  • Similarly, BS-VI engines will have negative effects if BS-IV fuels are used. Even though the engine will be updated to run on low sulphur, the particulate matter filter in the exhaust will serve little-to-no-purpose on BS-IV fuels. 
  • Oil refineries will need to invest Rs 80,000 crore in upgrading petrol and diesel quality to meet cleaner fuel specifications by 2020. 
  • The Indian auto industry will fully migrate to the manufacturing of only compliant vehicles on a pan India basis from April 1, 2020.
  • Use of new technology will raise the cost for automobile manufacturers. This means that the cost of vehicles may increase.

According to SIAM President Abhay Firodia, the decision will give confidence to the auto industry about the availability of the fuel grade across the country from April 1, 2020. Delhi consumed 906,000 tons of petrol and 1.26 million tonnes of diesel in 2016-17.

Poor air quality is bad for India’s economy as it attracts fewer investments. Therefore, leapfrogging to can mean better opportunities for Indian businesses. 

However, BS-VI compliant vehicles won't be able to operate on lower fuel grade which will be available outside of Delhi. Moreover, Mahindra & Mahindra Managing Director Pawan Goenka said it was unlikely that automobile manufacturers would be able to do it so soon. 


First Published: Thu, November 16 2017. 14:59 IST