Innospec, the American owned company that is the world’s sole producer of tetraethyl lead (TEL), the octane booster for gasoline, has reportedly told its shareholders it will stop producing the additive for automotive fuel by the end of this year but will keep making it for avgas. The company says on its website that it will continue production as long as aviation needs it even if it doesn’t make it for cars anymore and it has a plan for making it work. “Plans are already in place to ensure our plant can safely and economically manufacture TEL solely for the aviation market while it seeks a technical and cost effective alternative,” the website says.
Earlier this year the British magazine Specialty Chemicals ran a story about how the British press had been critical of the company for continuing to ship the toxic chemical to the six remaining countries in the world (Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Burma, Yemen and North Korea) that still allow leaded car gas. Innospec makes the chemical in England. The magazine said the company told its shareholders it had hoped to be out of the automotive TEL business by the end of 2012 and has set its sights on the end of this year. “Innospec is still producing and selling TEL to a very limited number of countries for use in motor gasoline,” the magazine quoted the company as saying in a statement. “The timing of the exit from the business is designed around the conversion of these countries to unleaded gasoline. We have openly indicated that we expected these conversions to take place over the past few years, but it seems that in some cases the introduction of unleaded fuel in these countries has been delayed.”