The regulatory requirements with respect to air quality and fossil fuel specifications are continually changing, and consequently the associated measurement needs of the fossil fuel energy industries also change. For example, in recent years there has been a dramatic reduction in the allowable sulfur concentration of on-road diesel fuels, and the introduction of cleaner ultra-low sulfur diesel fuels (ULSD) worldwide. In the US, the allowable concentration is now 15 μg/g (ppm), and the European Union is also moving towards a Euro V standard with a reduction to 10 μg/g targeted in 2009. The economic impact of NIST diesel fuel and coal SRMs for sulfur has been well documented in an economic impact study conducted by the Research Triangle Institute in 2000. This impact study is not a static document or metric, and large benefits to these industries from the fossil fuel SRM program continue to accrue. Although sulfur will always be the principal focus in both liquid and solid fuels, mercury and chlorine are increasingly becoming a concern to the coal production and electric utility industries, and therefore there is a need for reference materials and standards to support accurate measurements of these pollutants. Similarly, with the recent concern over the impact of greenhouse gases on climate change, there will be more focus in the future on the carbon budget and its role in the energy production cycle. It is increasingly likely that carbon emission reductions will soon be subject to more stringent environmental regulations, possibly as part of a cap-and-trade program in the US. There will therefore be an increasing need for primary traceability of carbon measurements associated with such a program.
The implementation of improved pollutant capture devices in the electric utility industry employing coal combustion has resulted in new technical challenges, as large amounts of waste products, such as fly-ash, are being generated that contain steadily rising levels of pollutants such as sulfur and mercury. To assess the environmental impact of the disposal or re-use of these waste products, commutable matrix SRMs are critically needed for the fossil fuel waste management sector.