India’s armed forces may soon be using winter diesel for operations in high altitude areas such as Ladakh, where winter temperatures plummet to extremely low levels. State-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), which is the largest oil marketing company in the country, has sought approval from the Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA) of the armed forces to approve winter diesel that is said to be usable at temperatures as low as -30° celsius.
What is winter diesel?
Winter diesel is a specialised fuel that was introduced by IOCL last year specifically for high altitude regions and low-temperature regions such as Ladakh, where ordinary diesel can become unusable. SV Ramakumar, director of research and development at IOC said the flow characteristics of regular diesel change at such low temperatures and using it may be detrimental to vehicles. Ramakumar noted that winter diesel which contains additives to maintain lower viscosity can be used in temperatures as low as -30°C and that besides a low pour point, it had higher cetane rating — an indicator is the combustion speed of diesel and compression needed for ignition— and lower sulphur content, which would lead to lower deposits in engines and better performance.
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Ramakumar noted that before the launch of winter diesel, consumers in areas that reached such low temperatures were using kerosene to dilute diesel to make it usable, which would lead to more air pollution.
What are the armed forces using in this area currently?
IOCL and other oil marketing companies, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd, provide the armed forces with Diesel High sulphur Pour Point (DHPP -W) to armed forces for operations in these areas which also has a pour point of -30°C.
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IOC may begin supplying winter diesel to the armed forces once its use is approved by the Controllerate of Quality Assurance for petroleum products under the Directorate General fo Quality Assurance of the armed forces.
Has demand for fuel suitable for such temperatures increased given border tensions with China in Ladakh?
While experts expect that demand may rise given the border tensions, the demand for DHPP-W from the armed forces has not increased significantly since the clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Galwan valley in Ladakh on June 15.
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