Diesel Engine Advancements Highlighted At EPA Meeting

Diesel and diesel-powered vehicles have made huge improvements pollution-wise in the last 10 years.

At the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) tenth annual West Coast Collaborative meeting the Diesel Technology Forum highlighted the evolution of diesel power as a workhorse and economical engine through the transformation to near zero emissions with a future focus to help California and the nation meet energy and climate goals.

“Clean diesel is a national success story and for the last 10 years the West Coast Collaborative has played a key role in bringing stakeholders together,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. “This will form a solid foundation for the future as attention shifts to increasing the penetration of new technology diesel engines and reducing carbon dioxide (C02) along with smog-precursor NOx. The inherent efficiencies of diesel technology coupled with the use of more renewable fuels and technology advances ensure it a continued key role in the future for California and beyond.”

Schaeffer appeared on a Clean Technologies Panel with Erik White, chief of the mobile source control division of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and representatives of CALSTART and the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition. The Panel was moderated by Dr. Matt Miyasato, deputy executive officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

“The future challenges for any advanced fuel and technology are to meet near zero emissions performance, increasing fuel economy mandates, customer needs and demands – ROI, affordability, reliability, and maintainability, and make it all work in the real world. Clean diesel is meeting these challenges today and can meet these challenges for tomorrow,” said Schaeffer. “Diesel technology plays a central role in the California economy, contributing more than $13 billion on an annual basis here. To the broader U.S. economy, diesel technology and fuels add $483 billion in value and about 1.25 million jobs nationwide and are a high value export, accounting for $46.2 billion in exports in 2009. Diesel’s economic importance here in California is matched only by its progress in reducing emissions and improving California’s air quality.”

During his appearance, Schaeffer noted that according to the Air Resources Board, from 1990 through 2015:

  • Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from heavy duty diesel trucks will have declined by nearly 74 percent with a reduction of 63 percent from non-road construction machines and 73 percent from farm equipment.
  • Oxides of nitrogen – a component of ozone or smog formation—will have declined by 21 percent in heavy duty trucks, 52 percent in non-road construction equipment and 65 percent in farm equipment.

Interestingly, Schaeffer also stated today in Southern California more fine particles come from brake and tire wear than from all on-road diesel engines. He added that because of these major advancements, it would take 60 of today’s new diesel trucks to equal the particulate emissions of just one truck made in 1988.

“Over a decade ago the diesel industry was challenged to fundamentally transform its technology to meet near zero emissions levels,” said Schaeffer. “Meeting these emissions challenges has delivered tangible benefits to air quality and public health and will continue to pay dividends in the months and years ahead as more of the new generation technology replaces the old. These accomplishments represented here today have also now positioned diesel as a key technology in a sustainable future here in California and around the world.”