Diesel Tech Forum: Renewable Fuel to Enhance Diesel’s Dominance

With national and international policies moving toward a low-carbon, sustainable future, the Diesel Technology Forum says that advanced clean diesel technologies and the emergence of low-emission renewable diesel fuel are leading to the continued growth in diesel’s dominance in the transportation and off-road sectors.

In a presentation to the Renewable Diesel Seminar in San Francisco, Allen Schaeffer, the executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, outlined how renewable diesel fuels build on the success of the near-zero diesel engine and emission control systems – the clean diesel system. The seminar was hosted by renewable diesel supplier Neste Corp., with additional presentations by officials from the San Francisco Department of the Environment, City of Oakland, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Diesel engines remain the workhorse of the global economy and have evolved to retain that position in the future,” Schaeffer said. “New clean diesel technology across all applications has now transformed to achieve near-zero emissions while still maintaining an efficiency advantage over other energy sources.

“As we work toward a sustainable future, the utilization of advanced renewable diesel fuels enhances all diesel performance and ensures diesel’s long-term suitability for helping achieve environmental, energy, climate and sustainability goals of nations, states, cities and fleets.”

Renewable diesel fuel produced by companies such as Neste Corp. is made from 100% renewable raw materials and results in a 40%-90% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions over the fuel’s lifecycle when compared with traditional fossil diesel.

Cities such as San Francisco and Oakland have transformed their fleets to renewable diesel as a cost-effective policy to immediately lower emissions in their regions.

“Renewable diesel fuels are an exciting new development in the advancement of clean diesel technology,” Schaeffer said. “Renewable diesel is suitable for all diesel engines, and its significant reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions offers immediate societal and customer benefits and an overnight transformation of the carbon footprint.”

Schaeffer said the new clean diesel engine and emissions control systems and ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel have virtually eliminated particulate matter and NOx emissions in the past 15 years. He also noted that more fine particulates in Southern California come from brake dust and tire wear than from heavy-duty diesel trucks, according to California Air Resources Board data.

He added that the advancements in clean diesel’s efficiency and lower emissions were especially significant because diesel engines power over 90% of the heavy-duty trucks in the U.S. and an overwhelming majority of all off-road construction and agricultural engines.

“In addition to renewable fuels, diesel technology is further positioning for a key role in a low-carbon, sustainable future,” Schaeffer said. “There are new advancements in engine thermal efficiency, diesel engine hybridization, and innovations in system efficiency, which mean even lower emissions and improved efficiency.”

He also highlighted how the integration of clean diesel generators in microgrids for electric power generation is allowing communities to utilize “the solar and wind renewable energy they want with the reliability they need from diesel generators.”

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