BS EN590 Standard for Diesel Fuel

EN590 describes the physical properties that all automotive diesel fuel must meet if it is to be sold in the UK, the rest of the European Union, Croatia, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

BS EN590 Standard for Diesel Fuel

EN590 was introduced to coincide with the development of new emissions standards across the European Union.

EN590 and water contamination

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.


EN590 looks beyond water content

As the table below shows, EN590’s requirements include the blending of up to 7% Fatty Acid Methyl Ester (FAME) biodiesel with conventional petrochemical diesel. A PDF version of this table is available in the page’s download area.

Property Unit Lower limit Upper limit Test Method
Cetane number 51.0 EN ISO 5165
Cetane index 46.0 EN ISO 4264
Density @ 15°C kg/m3 820 845 EN ISO 3675, EN ISO 12185
Viscosity at 40°C mm2/s 2.0 4.5 EN ISO 3104
Sulphur content mg/kg 10.0 EN ISO 20846, EN ISO 20847, EN ISO 2088
Flash point oC Above 55 EN ISO 2719
Carbon residue % m/m 0.30 EN ISO 10370
Ash content % m/m 0.01 EN ISO 6245
Water content mg/kg 200 EN ISO 12937
Total contamination mg/kg 24 EN ISO 12662
Fatty Acid Methyl Ether (FAME) (biodiesel) content % v/v 7 EN 14078
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons % m/m 11 (8) EN ISO 12916
Copper strip corrosion (3 hours at 50°C) index Class 1 Class 1 EN ISO 2160
Lubricity, corrected wear scar diameter (wsd 1.4) at 60°C μm 460 EN ISO 12156-1
 Oxidation Stability g/m3 25 EN ISO 12205
Oxidation Stability h 20 EN 15751
Distillation recovered at 250 °C, 350 °C % v/v 85 < 65 EN ISO 3405
95%(V/V) recovered at °C 360
Cold Filter Plugging Point (winter) °C -15
Cold Filter Plugging Point (summer) °C -5
Manganese content mg/l 2.0 EN 16576
Filter blocking tendency 2.52 IP 387, procedure B

EN590 and engine emissions

EN590 was introduced to coincide with the development of new emissions standards across the European Union. The overall goal has been to reduce the sulphur content of diesel fuel. Sulphur had been used as a lubricant in the fuel. Its role is taken by special additives in 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.


For more information on EN590

Unlike the EU directives, EN590 is not available free-of-charge. It has to be purchased from the British Standards Institute’s online shop. For this reason, it cannot be made available for download from IPU’s web site. The full text of the standard can be purchased from the BSI shop.