Fueling the Future 


EN590 - Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel

EN590 is the current standard for all automotive diesel fuel sold in the European Union member states. It is published by the European Committee for Standardization and it describes the physical properties of the fuel. It was introduced to partner the European emission standards as part of the drive for a cleaner environment.

All Road Diesel (DERV) now sold in the UK meets the EN590 standards, and because it has a low sulphur content is also called called ultra low sulphur diesel (ULSD).

Since 2007, diesel that conforms to EN590 has been referred to as Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel (ULSD) in the European Union. The phrase “Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel” is governed by different standards in other parts of the world.

Although EN590 covers numerous fuel characteristics, water content is the most relevant contaminant for fuel maintenance. To comply with EN590, fuel can contain no more than 200mg of water per kg of fuel.

This is an extremely demanding standard. 200mg of water per kg of fuel represents just 0.02% water contamination. Because modern biodiesel blends absorb water naturally (i.e. they are hygroscopic) it is practically impossible to adhere to the standard without regular testing and the use of a water extraction process such as a polishing system or regular tank cleaning.

The table shows, EN590’s requirements including the blending of up to 7% Fatty Acid Methyl Ester (FAME) biodiesel with conventional petrochemical diesel. Click the table for zooming in.

Regulatory Terms 

In the EU regulatory language, “gas-oil” is the term used to describe a wide class of fuels, including diesel fuels for onroad vehicles, fuels for nonroad vehicles, as well as other distillate fuels. Within the gas-oil classification, fuels for onroad vehicles (typically with sulfur content below 0.05%) are referred to as “diesel fuels”, while fuels for nonroad mobile machinery (typically with sulfur content up to 0.2%) are referred to as “gas-oils intended for use by non-road mobile machinery (including inland waterway vessels), agricultural and forestry tractors, and recreational craft”.