Back in the 1990s, one of the first issues of this magazine for which I acquired feature articles covered the work of Committee D02 on Petroleum Products and Lubricants. Those were my days as a writer and editor for SN, and one of my yearly tasks was to play editor in chief for one issue. I was lucky enough to take the helm in 1994 for the June issue on petroleum. That issue was dominated by D02’s standardization of reformulated gasoline, a cleaner-burning form of conventional gasoline that has been required for sale since 1995, in cities with high ground-level ozone pollution.
In the 13 years since, the need for ever-cleaner fuels has grown in urgency, not just within the consciousness of the fossil fuels industry, but within public consciousness. Today, there is an almost dizzying array of alternative fuel sources that are being standardized by Committee D02. Biodiesel fuels made from soybean, rapeseed and palm oils are finding their way through labs around the world, with various blends being standardized by Subcommittee D02.E0 on Burner, Diesel, Non-Aviation Gas Turbine, and Marine Fuels. Ethanol, long a gasoline extender and octane enhancer, has a new public image in the United States after being highlighted in at least the last two State of the Union addresses and is headed toward a larger role in gas tanks around the world.
The aviation fuel industry is also looking toward a cleaner-burning future by exploring fuels created through chemical processes utilizing natural gas, coal or any carbon-based material including plant crops. In his article, Gregory Hemighaus describes the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, which allows scientists to convert these carbon sources into jet fuel; in Johannesburg, South Africa, all commercial planes that pass through its airport are filled up using coal-based jet fuel created by the FT method. Synthetic and alternative diesel fuels are already available in the marketplace and Committee D02 is on top of this trend in terms of standards development, as well.
The cover of that June 1994 issue showed an oil pump pulling fossil fuels out of the earth. Now in 2007, the image of the fuels that power cars, trucks and airplanes shows new promise, one in which their nature as environmental hazards is being mitigated by applying science to the problem of how to keep our natural environment as clean as possible. Behind every great industry trend is standardization, and Committee D02 is supporting this one in a big way.
Editor in Chief