Chevy and GMC Duramax Diesel Forum banner

Accidentally using low sulfur diesel fuel?

27592 Views 70 Replies 30 Participants Last post by  ROC
Jun 9/07

We have just purchased a 2007 Chevy Silverado with the LMM Duramax engine. However, we like to haul our fifth wheel to Mexico for the winter. Unfortunately, ultra low diesel fuel is only available in a few border areas of Mexico, with low sulfur fuel being the standard elsewhere.

I have tried without success to get a meaningful response from GM regarding my questions about the specific damage which may, or may not, occur if we run our truck on low sulfur fuel in Mexico for a couple of months and a few thousand miles.

The only official answer I can get is along the lines of "Extended use of the truck on LSD could cause damage to the particulate filter and other parts of the emissions controls". When I ask what "extended use" means, and what specific damage "could" be caused the GM reps are unable or unwilling to tell me.

After an extensive search on the internet for any record of problems experienced by other owners who inadvertently or deliberately used low sulfur fuel I can find nothing. This is leading me to believe that the truck will run perfectly well on low sulfur diesel with perhaps only a shortened life for the replaceable particulate filter.

Is there anyone out there with some more specific information?

Ted White
Kelowna, BC
1 - 20 of 71 Posts
I would actually prefer to run LSD all the time if I could find it. The extra sulfur lubricates the engine.
I have ran a couple of tanks of it. Hope it does not hurt anything that fast. It was the only fuel I could get.........
i don't know about your lmm but my lbz got a full 34 gallons run threw it this weekend with a 36 g-neck and two cat skidders 867's on it and it ran great on the old fuel, the only thing i noticed was more sutt and black smoke going up and down ga mountians. mpg didn't seem to be changed
The ULSD is an issue with the new LMM because of the particulate filter in the exhaust. The LBZ and earlier run just fine on LSD and even off-road diesel. As far as the LMM, I don't know that the long term effects would be running it. I would say that if you don't make a habit out of running it on the LMM, you should be ok.
ya the LBZ runs just fine on off-road diesel....:fart :tease don't ask me how i know:rof :drink
ok cool thanks, theres plenty of ord around here to soo thats real good to know now.
The dealer I bought my Crew Cab from filled the tank with Low Sulfer fuel and was unaware of the ULSD requirement. I educated them and asked the service department to to look into the effects. The response I got was that the Low Sulfer fuel would damage the emissions equipment, especially the particulate filter and that GM would not honor the warranty if there is evidence of Low Sulfer fuel usage, no exceptions. :mad:
Sixgun has summed up the correct answer. The particulate filter can loose efficiency through sulfur poisoning (google that term if you really want to investigate the chemical engineering of this situation).
Ultra-low sulfur fuel has less than 15 parts per million (ppm) of sulfur, low sulfur can have up to 500 ppm and off-road is the worst with up to 4000 ppm.
Sulfur poisoning is indeed the theoretical reason to avoid LSD and use ULSD, but I am aware of tests run on the LMM by GM Engineering to determine the effects of using LSD. There is a sulfur poisioning detector built in to the emissions system on the LMM but GM have had difficulty producing a sulfur poisoning condition during tests. Bottom line - it appears that the theory may be more pessimistic than reality.

I have been corresponding withe the owner of a 2007.5 Dodge down on the Baja in Mexico who has been running LSD for about 3 months with no codes and no problems. I'm still looking for someone who has taken an LMM Duramax into Mexico.

Has anyone done it yet?
What sulfur poisoning detector is there?
The poisoning can be influenced by the amount and distribution of platinum group metals in the wash coat of the particulate filter substrate.
I would be interested in details of the GM engineering test. Please post more on that.
The technology has existed for several years to produce sulfur poisoning resistant DPFs and catalytic convertors. I suspect that GM is using this more advanced technology but I have been unable to confirm it through my contact.

As for the testing details, I can't post any more details for two reasons: 1. too much detail will make it obvious who I got the information from and I'm not about to compromise that person's confidence in sharing information with me, and
2. My contact will not tell me which part of the system contains the sulfur poisoning detector. This might mean it does not exist, and it might mean that the department doesn't want to identify it until they have a chance to see if it works in the field.

However, in order to identify the symptoms and extent of any damage caused by using LSD, tests HAVE already been done by GM. My contact is high enough up in the engineering pyramid to give me confidence that the results I was given are reliable. They have had trouble identifying any specific evidence of sulfur poisoning from their tests but I do not know how many thousand miles were simulated.

When, and if, I can get more information, I'll post it. In the meantime I'm still interested in finding someone with an LMM who has used LSD - at least several tankfuls. I've posted the question on several forums and have yet to find anyone who has been into Mexico with an LMM but it's hard to believe that nobody has yet done it.
See less See more
Duramax does not have a sulfur detector. Nothing personal about your pyramid contact.
Duramax Guy, if you know for certain that there is no sulfur detector, and it's certainly something I've suspected, how do you know? From technical training on the LMM, or some other source?

Also, if you know for certain that there is no sulfur poisoning detector, have you also seen the test results for the use of LSD in the Duramax? If not, and you are on the technical side of GM, have you seen any list of symptoms or damage which techs must watch for in order to identify sulfur poisoning?
The regeneration efficiency would drop dramatically (i.e., it would take a very long time to complete a regeneration event). The filter could be analyzed to determine if sulfur was the reason. This would not be diagnosable (is that a word) until it happens.
There is no "secret detector" to determine if you are using LSD in your LMM. There have been some tests done where using LSD in a LMM has had not detrimental effect except lower the life of the DOC.
If OFF Road LSD (ppm greater than 500) is used, we have found that the DOC can be poisoned in a short amount of time.
Since I first posted my question I've done a huge amount of research on DOCs and DPFs and I've spoken with two US Govt sponsored researchers who have done work on DOCs and DPFS with respect to the effects of sulfur in fuel.

I now know what company manufactures most of the DPFs (Johnson Mathey), and I have access to several scientific papers documenting fuel sulfur effects on DPFs and DOCs.

Here is the bottom line summary of the data:

The emissions system is designed to operate at a specific "break even" temperature for the exhaust gasses - this is a temperature at which the exhaust gasses, during average driving conditions, tend to facilitate continuous regeneration while driving, minimizing the need for fuel wasting active regeneration. Concentrations of sulfur in the fuel higher than 50ppm have the effect of RAISING the break even temperature - it jumps by about 30 degs when going from 50ppm to 350 ppm sulfur in the fuel. Obviously this leads to more frequent programmed regenerations under average driving conditions.

HOWEVER, towing a trailer, and/or driving at freeway speeds, naturally results in HIGHER exhaust gas temperatures, and the test results all support the presumption that using higher sulfur fuel while towing will have little or no effect on the system or emissions.

When there is sulfur present in diesel fuel, SO3 is formed during combustion. Some of this SO3 combines in the DOC with water molecules in the exhaust stream to form H2SO4, sulfuric acid, which in turn creates a range of sulfates in reaction with soot particles. The end products are still particulate in nature, but much smaller and more dangerous to human health than the larger particles. This is the motivation for the EPA directive to reduce sulfur content.

There is also an impact on the efficiency of the DPF though - the smaller particulate sulfates created in the DOC tend to run right through the DPF, so although the soot is still burned off, the sulfates tend to escape and the total particulate emissions can actually INCREASE to levels higher than would have been the case with no DPF installed. The particles are no longer predominantly soot, but are mostly the much smaller and supposedly more dangerous sulfates, especially at lower exhaust gas temperatures.

At 3ppm sulfur the DPF achieves 95% reduction, at 30ppm it achieves 72% reduction, at 150ppm the reduction is almost at zero, and at 500ppm, typical of Mexican fuel, emissions actually increase above the baseline EXCEPT at higher exhaust gas temperatures. As mentioned above, the composition of the particulate matter in the emissions gradually changes to a higher and higher sulfate based material.

None of the tests run in several scientific studies reported damage to any of the components of the system whether running 0% sulfur diesel (a new experimental fuel), various concentrations of sulfur up to 500 ppm, or biodiesel of various concentrations. However, the optimal blend at this time for the most effective reduction of emissions is 15ppm, which is what we are now getting at the pumps.

Here are two links to comprehensive information about diesel particulate filters (DPFs) and Diesel Oxygen Catalysts (DOCs) and the effects of fuel sulfur on those components. These reports were generated during testing prior to legislation to introduce the components into vehicles beginning in 2007.

contains the February 2002 Summary of Reports from the Diesel Emissions Control Sulfur Effects Project of the U.S. Government.

On page 8 appears the following quote “The performance of the DPFs when exposed to 400 hours of testing with higher sulfur levels did not degrade”.

However, higher exhaust gas temperatures are required for proper regeneration, which means that stop and start driving around town on higher sulfur diesel is not an ideal situation. Highway speeds and higher engine loading, such as when towing, do provide the necessary higher exhaust gas temperatures.

IMPORTANT: The report dispels the myth that there is any parallel between the catalytic convertors on cars which require unleaded gasoline and the DPFs on diesels. Lead in fuel irreversibly damages catalytic surfaces, but sulfur does NOT. final.pdf

is a July 2000 report from the Association for Emission Control by Catalyst which also describes sulfur tolerance tests run on DPFs.

On page 9 the report states that sulfur effects on the DPF are almost indistinguishable using fuels between 50ppm and 450ppm of sulfur unless the distances exceed 80,000kms (50,000 miles).

There is a lot of misinformation and speculation floating around about the effect that higher sulfur fuels, like that found in Mexico, could have on the DPFs and DOCs of the new diesel trucks, but none of the extensive testing done prior to introduction supports the notion that significant damage will occur.

However, it is a fact, also described in both reports, that particulate emissions actually increase if fuels with high sulfur content are used. This is the overwhelming reason why ulsd fuel has been specified for use with the new trucks – there was no point in introducing a DOC and DPF unless the emissions from sulfur could be reduced along with the soot.

Both researchers I have spoken with indicated that it is highly unlikely that any "damage" would be detectable in the DOC and DPF unless a vehicle used higher sulfur fuel for more than 25,000 miles. However, the emissions would exceed US Govt requirements while using the higher sulfur fuel.
See less See more
The new LMM runs great on Lsd and even off - road But the carbon build up after a few uses is noticed. We are taking all that emission crap off our 07.5 with 12000 miles since july 07 and putting on turbo back sytem from rbp i will post results of the trip from ohio to texas tow with the my other truck intow.:gearjamin:fart
DHRA here we come!
Now you've got my attention Mikes DMax. I'm still interested in any new information and it sounds like you have a fair bit of experience using higher sulfur fuels. When you say "the carbon build up after a few uses is noticed" can you explain a bit more about the symptoms? Do you notice more frequent regenerations, or is there something else that tells you there is carbon build up? And does "after a few uses" mean after a few tankfuls or after a longer period of use?
Now you've got my attention Mikes DMax. I'm still interested in any new information and it sounds like you have a fair bit of experience using higher sulfur fuels. When you say "the carbon build up after a few uses is noticed" can you explain a bit more about the symptoms? Do you notice more frequent regenerations, or is there something else that tells you there is carbon build up? And does "after a few uses" mean after a few tankfuls or after a longer period of use?
A few uses to me is about 1/1 tanks of lsd and offroad. the build up was before the reburners when we dropped the exhast two nights ago. We are going to put on a turbo back system tonight. Although the regenerations were pretty frequent, and the mpg we get sucks right now so we are going to try an intake and exhast to fix it.
1 - 20 of 71 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.