May 24, 2018

Clean fuel in Australia still just a load of hot air

Is the push to end Australia's dependency on low-quality petrol just a pipe dream?

David Ross

Freelance journalist

Rarely do we stop to consider how uniquely dirty our national fuel of choice, unleaded petrol, is. But Australia's obsession with it needs addressing and government inaction is leaving the country sitting in the dust in a race for cleaner fuel.

Australia is ranked lowest of the 35 OECD member countries in quality. We've fallen to 70th in last year's top 100 world ranking of petrol quality, which is based on regulated sulfur content. Plans proposed in 2016 to completely kill off regular unleaded petrol look set to be sidelined after the Department of Environment quietly slipped its Better Fuels for Cleaner Air 2018 discussion paper in at the start of this year.

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6 thoughts on “Clean fuel in Australia still just a load of hot air

  1. Roger Clifton

    Curiously neglected, the conversion of our fossil-fed refineries to recycled CO2 would supply zero-sulfur fuel to our remaining internal combustion engines. Although they will still emit GHG, the recycled CO2 meets the “net zero emissions” by 2100 requirement of the Paris Agreement.

    The clock is ticking. Replacing all fossil feedstock is not an option, it is a necessity.

  2. Andrew Reilly

    The article doesn’t explain how the cost of supposed major upgrades could “cause Australia’s four remaining refineries to close”. Is there a non-refinery alternative that they would lose out to? Australians love their cars, and hardly any of them are electric at the moment. They’re going to keep buying petrol even if it becomes more expensive (as it does, from time to time.)

  3. David Horkan

    An interesting piece, but should it not be ‘sulphur’?

    1. Roger Clifton

      “Sulfur” has long been the common usage in chemistry, more recently made official by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).

  4. AR

    Meanwhile, as we waddle towards the bottom of the national obesity pile, there are vast acreages of sugar cane in marginal areas demanding yet more government subsidies for their pure, white & deadly product.
    Buy the entire crop, on 20 year contracts, and turn it into ethanol.
    Those with shares in dentistry & diet scams can try growing boutique-style – “each individual cane can lovingly cut whilst singing hymns to the plant gods” or go back to extracting the sweet stuff from swedes & turnips as they did, pre slave trade to the Windies.

  5. Itsarort

    Tetraethyl lead is one of the greatest chemicals of all time. In extremely small quantities it could raise fuel raitings up to 100 octane and as far as 150 octane. Too bad it was also one of the deadliest chemicals ever produced.
    Modern octane boosters are more expensive, but are we being gouged by oil company’s when buying 95 and 98 fuel is a topic that the ACCC is too gutless to challenge. What’s making the situation even worse is the bullshit claims about the octane ratings boost and improved enviromental outcomes from ethanol additives in fuel. And the fact that ethanol producers are major sponsors for all sides of government, just throws a match on any reasonable scientific debate.

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