Sub-standard diesel blamed for car fires

TN News

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Vietnam's Ministry of Science and Technology recently said low-quality diesel may have caused hundreds of mysterious car fires across the country since 2010.

Tran Minh Dung, chief inspector of the ministry, told local media that diesel containing high levels of sulphur may be the main reason for the fires.

"High sulphur content will heat up the engine, which will destroy the fuel filter and cause a fuel leak, leading to a fire," Dung said.

The ministry has recently focused on checking diesel quality in the country after 70 percent of the 252 burned cars were found to have been filled with diesel.

The investigation showed that 14 percent of 242 diesel samples taken from all over the country had sulphur contents much higher than the allowed level of 0.25 percent.

The government in 2006 required gasoline importers to buy diesel with lower sulphur content, which has higher import prices, in a move to curb pollution.

The ministry also found 90 gas stations selling gasoline with a much lower degree of octane than stipulated in order to reap VND1,000 (5 US cents) more in profit from each liter.

Gas with less octane will break vehicle's engine, said Dr. Le Canh Hoa, former deputy director of Additive and Petroleum Product Company.

The ministry launched a nationwide inspection into the quality of gasoline from June to August , following the Prime Minister's request early this year after the hundreds of mysterious vehicle fires.

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This summer, researchers from the Ho Chi Minh City Refinery and Petrochemical Technology Research Center released a report citing the presence of ethanol and methanol in gasoline as the possible cause of vehicle fires. The government has yet to reach an official conclusion on the issue.

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