Leading Industry technology specialist Tracerco, part of Johnson Matthey Plc, has published a paper investigating the use of distillation techniques in the illicit removal of non-launderable markers in lower taxed or subsidised fuel.
It is a common practice in many countries to tax fuel for use in industrial sectors such as the agricultural, marine or mining industries at a lower rate or to subsidise it compared to fuel employed for road transport. To ensure that such lower taxed or subsidised fuel is exclusively utilized for its intended purpose, it is frequently the case that a marker is added to distinguish it from the more expensive, higher taxed road fuel. Due to high profit potential, there is every incentive for criminals to remove such a marker and subsequently sell the laundered fuel at the higher road transport price.
This paper discusses the criteria for selecting a marker to be resistant to removal by distillation. Industrial-scale distillations of marker spiked Diesel samples were performed to establish whether certain fuel markers could be successfully and cost-effectively separated from Diesel on a significantly larger scale. The results demonstrated that simple distillation is a highly effective means of removing current overt dye markers as well as certain covert markers.
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