Diesel fuel quality standard

Management of Diesel Oil Burn Systems

The use of oil burn systems in diesel vehicles can potentially breach section 20 of the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000 if the addition of oil to the diesel within the engine results in the diesel not complying with the Fuel Standard (Automotive Diesel) Determination 2001.

As the Australian Government is committed to international best practice regulation of fuel quality, it has been decided not to amend the determination to allow the use of oil burn systems in any diesel vehicles operating in Australia.

It is considered that there is enough concern about the potential impacts on sulfur levels in diesel from the addition of used motor oil to warrant this decision.

Environmental standards

The first suite of national fuel standards, which came into force on 1 January 2002, regulates petrol and diesel parameters that have a direct impact on the environment ('environmental standards').
The standards will have a major impact on the amount of toxic pollutants in vehicle emissions, such as benzene and particles, with studies estimating reductions of up to 50 per cent for some pollutants over 20 years. This is great news for our health, with cleaner air helping to reduce the number of serious respiratory illnesses and asthma cases, particularly in children.

Operability standards

A second suite of national fuel standards came into force on 16 October 2002. These standards ('operability standards') address those parameters of diesel that do not have a direct impact on emissions but, if not controlled, can have adverse impacts on the efficient operation of the engine.

Further operability standards are being developed that may include:

  • for diesel - the parameters are appearance, acidity, cloud point and cold filter plugging point.

Summary table

The environmental and operability standards are consolidated in the following tables. The legal instrument implementing the standard is:

Diesel standards
Parameter National standard Date of effect Test Method
Biodiesel 1 5.0% volume by volume (max) 1-Mar-09 EN 14078
Sulfur 500 ppm (max) 31-Dec-02 ASTM D5453
50 ppm (max) 1-Jan-06
10 ppm (max) 1-Jan-09
Cetane Index 46 (min) index 1-Jan-02 ASTM D4737
Derived Cetane Number (of diesel containing biodiesel) 51.0 (min) 21-Feb-09 ASTM D6890
Density 820 (min) to 860 (max) kg/m3 1-Jan-02 ASTM D1298
820 (min) to 850 (max) kg/m3 1-Jan-06
Distillation T95 370°C (max) 1-Jan-02 ASTM D86
360°C (max) 1-Jan-06
Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) 11% m/m (max) 1-Jan-06 IP391
Ash 100 ppm (max) 1-Jan-02 ASTM D482
Viscosity 2.0 to 4.5 cSt @ 40°C 1-Jan-02 ASTM D445
Carbon Residue (10% distillation residue) 0.2 mass % max 16-Oct-02 ASTM D4530
Water and sediment 0.05 vol % max 16-Oct-02 ASTM D2709
Water (all diesel containing biodiesel) 200 mg/kg (max) 21-Feb-09 ASTM 6304
Conductivity @ ambient temp 50 pS/m (Min) @ambient temp (all diesel held by a terminal or refinery for sale or distribution) 16-Oct-02 ASTM D2624
Oxidation Stability 25 mg/L max 16-Oct-02 ASTM D2274
Colour 2 max 16-Oct-02 ASTM D1500
Copper Corrosion (3 hrs @ 50°C) Class 1 max 16-Oct-02 ASTM D130
Flash point 61.5°C min 16-Oct-02 ASTM D93
Filter blocking tendency 2.0 max 16-Oct-02 IP 387
Lubricity 0.460 mm (max) (all diesel containing less than 500 ppm sulfur) 16-Oct-02 IP 450

1 The biodiesel component of diesel must meet the requirements of fuel quality standard for biodiesel set out in the Fuel Standard (Biodiesel) Determination 2003.


The information contained on this page is of a general nature only and should be read in conjunction with the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000, Fuel Quality Standards Regulations 2001 and the Fuel Standard (Automotive Diesel) Determination 2001. Fuel suppliers may wish to seek legal advice about their obligations under this legislation.