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Renewable Fuel Boosts Diesel's Dominance, Tech Forum Says

March 31, 2017

Screenshot via Neste YouTube
Screenshot via Neste YouTube

Renewable diesel fuel made from organic materials will enhance the dominant position of Clean Diesel engines among the world’s power sources, the head of a diesel advocacy group told a seminar in San Francisco yesterday.

Alan Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, outlined how renewable diesel fuels build on the near-zero-emissions diesel engine and emission control systems. He also cited data showing in emissions-sensitive southern California, more particulates come from brake dust and tire wear than from heavy diesel trucks.

His remarks came at the Renewable Diesel Seminar, hosted by the Neste Corp., a leading supplier of renewable diesel, with additional presentations by officials from the San Francisco Department of the Environment, the 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 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 petroleum diesel. Cities like San Francisco and Oakland have switched their truck and equipment fleets to renewable diesel as a cost-effective policy to immediately lower emissions in their regions.

“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 latest engines and ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel have virtually eliminated particulate matter and NOx emissions in the past 15 years, he said.  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 diesel advancements were especially significant because diesel engines power over 90% of heavy-duty trucks in the U.S. and an overwhelming majority of all off-road construction and agricultural engines. 

“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 said.

Schaeffer 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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