Air quality is an increasing concern for European citizens. A recent survey showed that 56% of Europeans think that air quality has worsened in the last decade, and close to nine out of ten citizens consider air-quality related diseases a big worry.
According to the European Environment Agency, 41% of the EU urban population is exposed to levels of fine particles or 'particulate matter' (PM) which exceeds the EU air quality daily limit. Poor air quality as a result of emissions from transport is a particular problem in urban areas, where high congestion makes the low air quality problem most acute. According to the WHO, there is increasing evidence of health benefits resulting from a reduction in long term mean concentrations of PM10.
Rigorous tests have shown that the use of paraffinic fuels significantly reduce local exhaust emissions such as particulates and NOx compared to conventional diesel fuels. These important local emission reductions are achieved in existing vehicles without modifications, making these fuels a cost effective way to improve air quality immediately.
Road trials of paraffinic fuels in several European capitals and elsewhere demonstrate that paraffinic fuels provide significant local air quality improvement in urban areas by reducing tailpipe emissions:
The EU has put in place a progressively more ambitious programme of Euro standards over the past few years. These standards seek to reduce exhaust emissions (mainly PM and NOx) from light duty and heavy duty vehicles. The graph below demonstrates the gradual emissions reductions observed for different Euro standard categories. These standards only control, however, emissions in new vehicles.
As fleets take a long time to turnover and show reduction in emissions, using paraffinic fuels would have an immediate positive impact on the local emissions from the existing vehicle fleet, particularly in urban areas. Further reduction in NOx could be obtained by the optimisation of engines to run on paraffinic fuels.