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Diesel Engines Environmentally Friendly

Diesel Engines Environmentally Friendly – Diesel-powered big rigs are expected to account for the majority of the commercial fleet in the United States over the next decade as newer diesel engines release fewer emissions.

Vehicles powered by rechargeable battery packs and compressed natural gas (CNG) continue to receive plenty of attention, and zero or low emissions have been important factors in their use.

However, diesel engines in big rigs newer than the model year 2010 have nearly zero emissions, said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of Diesel Technology Forum. In a recent webinar, Schaeffer and Casey Selecman, senior manager at IHS Markit, released new data on diesel technology and its use in the United States.

Selecman also provided data on the use of diesel technology through 2030.

The U.S. commercial fleet includes 14 million vehicles, and 75 percent are powered by diesel engines. And, 43 percent are using the newest generation of diesel technology, Schaeffer said. This is an increase of 6.8 percent, from 2018.

Also, 97 percent of class 8 trucks, or the largest truck class, are powered by diesel engines, and 44 percent are using the newest generation of diesel technology. This is a 7.3 percent increase from 2018, he said.

Indiana has the highest percentage of trucks with the newest diesel technology at 65 percent. Oklahoma is second with 56 percent. In the south-central region, which includes Arkansas, 49 percent of the trucks have the newest diesel technology.

Nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter emissions have decreased 98 percent in heavy-duty trucks powered by diesel engines when comparing those in 1988 with the trucks with the newest diesel technology, Selecman said.

He explained that as more trucks with newer technology become a part of the commercial vehicle fleet, the benefits will continue to rise. Also, the newer technology has allowed for fuel efficiency improvements from 3 percent to 4 percent, he said. The newer diesel technology has complemented other improvements to trucks such as improved aerodynamics.

Between 2010 and 2030, the share of commercial vehicles that will be powered by diesel engines is expected to fall by about 5 percent.

The share for class 4 to 8 trucks are expected to fall to 80 percent by 2030. Over the same period, the average fuel economy of Class 8 trucks is projected to rise from 6 miles per gallon to nearly 10 miles per gallon.

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“If somebody told me a few years ago that a class 8 truck would get 10 miles per gallon I would’ve told them that they were crazy,” Selecman said. “But there is a lot of activity in this space, and the technology is growing and moving so fast that there are actually vehicles on the road, real vehicles in use, that are getting over 10 miles per gallon today.”

Between 2011 and 2018, class 3 to 8 trucks have saved 126 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and 12.4 billion gallons of fuel as a result of the new technology in diesel engines, he said. Between 2011 and 2030, the savings is projected to increase to 1.3 billion tons of CO2 and 130 billion gallons of fuel, he added. Also, from 2007 to 2030, he projected a NOx reduction of 73 million tons.

Selecman explained the reductions would be like removing 276 million light-duty vehicles from the road for a year or making them zero-emissions electric vehicles. Or, like removing NOx emissions from all light-duty for 26 years and particulate matter emissions for 130 years. Nearly all of the houses in the United States could be powered for one year on the expected fuel savings through 2030, he said.