Clean Diesel Technology: More Than Just a Name

Clean Diesel Technology: More Than Just a Name

I will be the first to admit that at first glance putting “clean” and “Diesel” in the same product name, made about as much sense to me as trying to make hot ice. Surely there is nothing clean about diesel, right? Diesel is the outdated, dirty, pollutant ridden stuff of eco-nightmares according to popular theory.

The problem is, it’s not. Well, not anymore at least.

There is a lot of misinformation about diesel exhaust floating around out there (pun completely intentional). For instance, in 2012 the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer listed diesel exhaust as a Group 1(carcinogenic to humans). They fail to mention that the elevation is related to diesel exhaust as related to industrial exposure, and not vehicle emissions. It’s also supposedly based on decade’s old, inconclusive data.

Even the Environmental Protection Agency in the US lists diesel exhaust as a “probable carcinogen”. Apparently they would know, considering in 2012 they were accused of exposing uninformed and low-income test subjects, who were already sick, to diesel exhaust fumes to see if their conditions worsened. For 12 dollars an hour.

I’d be willing to bet they didn’t get better from it.

The real truth is that clean diesel technology has come a very long way in the last 10 years. In 2006 the EPA established theUltra-Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) standards. All highway vehicles are required to use diesel with a sulfur content less than 15 parts per million. The previous standard was 500 PPM. By 2010 even locomotives and non-road vehicles (tractors and such) were required to use ULSD. According to the EPA’s ownwebsite: “These programs will yield enormous long-term benefits for public health and the environment. By 2030, when the engine fleet has been fully turned over, particulate matter (PM) and nitrous oxides (NOx) will be reduced by 380,000 tons/year and 7 million tons/year, respectively. This will result in annual benefits of over $290 billion, at a cost of approximately $15 billion.”. That is the information from the very government agency that basically condemned the usage of diesel like the puritans condemned witchcraft.

No wonder diesel has a bad reputation.

If the environmental impacts were the only side of the argument, the argument would essentially be over at this point. Unfortunately, as with all compelling conversations, there are more aspects. For instance, at face value, diesel is more expensive. That alone in this country is enough to make it extremely unpopular.

But why is diesel more expensive?

 

But why is diesel more expensive?

Diesel vs Gas

Diesel vs Gas

Because it’s cleaner. The additional refinement and regulation of diesel requires additives and techniques that are simply more expensive. Think of it in terms of a hotel room. I’ll be willing to guarantee that a 150 dollar a night hotel room is cleaner than a 40 dollar a hotel night room. But, people want cheap. So much so, they tend to ignore the fact that diesel cars get an average of 40% better real-world fuel economy simply because a gallon of diesel costs 50 cents more.

You can’t expect people to do the math on that. They have pictures of food to post on Facebook, so I’ll help them out.
VW Passat TDI Clean diesel -794 miles on $72.00 Dollars of Diesel
Toyota Avalon- 527 miles on $65 dollars of Gas 7 dollar difference for an additional 267 miles.

Another thing that needs to be considered along with the raw fuel economy,  is that diesel is more expensive because of demand. Less diesel is refined because of the demands for gasoline. Shift that paradigm, and history shows us that price of diesel will go down. In fact, in other countries where diesel is more popular, it is much cheaper than unleaded gas.

The technology exists today to even refine the current diesel engines that are in production. There is an entire market out there specific to lowering diesel emissions and increasing economy. By implementing aftermarket parts like a turbo or block warmer, the diesel engines on the road today can be made more efficient and cleaner.

Clean Diesel Technology: More Than Just a Name

Clean Diesel Technology: More Than Just a Name

Transportation is the heart that pumps blood into the American way of life. Because of our infrastructure of highways and the ability to ship across the country with ease, we expect everything right now and at a reasonable cost. As long as our standards of living call for a dependency on petroleum, we’re going to get the side effects. The least we can do is to make better decisions on transportation, fuel consumption, and emissions regulations. We have an alternative at our disposal right now as it is, but because it doesn’t have the “Green Leaf” or “Hybrid” badges that our current cultural consciousness expects, it’s still to a large degree; ignored.

By Justin Gammill

He is "stealthy like a ninja at midnight, yet brazen like a champion Mexican fighting chicken". Justin Gammill approaches his topics in a manner that provokes thought, laughter, and the occasional “did he just say that?”. Chances are, yes, he most certainly did just say that. So, buckle up … you never know where the train of thought is going.