Experts Identify Obstacles to Clean Diesel Future

You walk into a car dealership and the salesman asks if you would like to test-drive a well-equipped mid-size sedan using a new kind of technology. The vehicle gets 30 percent better fuel economy than the conventional version, is much zippier from a standstill, and is so clean that it acts like a vacuum cleaner actually removing dangerous particles of pollution from the air as you drive down city roads. You ask, “Is the vehicle some sort of new hybrid?” The salesman replies, “No. It’s a diesel!”

That’s right: Diesel. In late 2008, the first so-called “clean diesels” will become available in all 50 states by achieving the average emission level of most cars. Reaching this level of cleanliness—what the federal government calls “Tier 2, Bin 5”—requires deployment of some very fancy technology in the form of improved injection and combustion systems, and better exhaust traps and treatment systems. But that technology is just about ready to roll out. “We don’t have to ask the question over and over again whether it’s possible with a diesel to comply with Tier 2, Bin 5 emissions rules,” said Johannes-Joerg Rueger, vice president of diesel engineering at Bosch, a leading diesel technology provider. “There’s no doubt.”

Excitement When You Hit the Throttle

Rueger and other diesel experts appeared on a panel about “clean diesel” at the recent Auto FutureTech Summit in Vancouver, British Columbia. The panel moderator, Tim Johnson, director of environmental technologies, Corning Inc., said, “Diesel has a major role to play because it’s inherently more efficient than gasoline combustion. It produces about 20 percent fewer greenhouse gases, well-to-wheel, versus gasoline. And particle emissions coming out of the tailpipe are at or less than ambient.” The panel did its share of cheerleading, portraying diesel as clean, green and fun. “The core attribute of the modern diesel is torque performance, which is available to the driver at low engine speeds,” said Kevin McMahon, managing partner at the Martec Group, a market research firm. “Torque is what creates driving excitement and it’s the only thing we feel when we hit the throttle.”

But the panel didn’t sidestep the most difficult challenges facing the wider adoption of diesel vehicles in North America. Bosch predicts dramatic growth of diesel vehicles—nearly one out of every seven new vehicles purchased will be diesel by 2015. Rueger acknowledged, “There’s no silver bullet. Diesel is not the silver bullet.” He added, “And hybrid is definitely not the silver bullet either.” According to the panelists, hybrids—while slightly cleaner on smog-producing tailpipe emissions—have a higher cost of ownership and yield limited efficiency benefits in highway driving. Despite these issues, consumers view hybrids as environmental saviors and are buying hybrids in impressive numbers.

Combining diesel and hybrids, and using biofuels in diesel engines, were discussed as possibilities—but diesel-hybrids were generally viewed as too expensive, and lack of standards for biodiesel were viewed as an impediment.

Top Five Obstacles

Will clean diesel grow at the same rate as hybrids? Only if these five obstacles, identified by the panel, are overcome.

High Cost of Diesel Fuel
In March 2008, the average price of diesel fuel was nearly 70 cents higher than a gallon of regular unleaded. McMahon said, “The biggest unknown right now is the cost of diesel fuel. In North America, it’s abnormally high. If the price of diesel fuel remains extremely high relative to gasoline, I think a lot of consumer will think, that’s like jet fuel, and I’m turned off by the concept of buying that exotic fuel for my vehicle.”

Lack of Incentives for Diesel Vehicles

Consumers and automakers are offered various incentives for hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric cars, and biofuel-powered vehicles. Those don’t exist for diesels, with the exception of CAFE credits for Biodiesel-20 capability. “The government could promote innovation and ensure fair competition by establishing technology-neutral incentive programs. Clean diesel has the advantage on reduced CO2 emissions,” said Norbert Krause, director of engineering and environmental, Volkswagen Group North America. “We have diesels cleaning the air, at least in regard to particulates, but incentives were given to hybrids or E85. But nobody is talking about incentives for clean diesel.”

Limited Availability of Diesel Fuel

Currently, diesels make up about 5 percent of the light-duty market. If diesels grow in popularity over a few decades, they could become victims of their own success by burdening the fueling infrastructure. “The refinery mix is generally a fixed entity, that is they are configured to produce a fixed amount of gasoline to a fixed amount of diesel,” said Johnson. “We’re wondering whether or not the fuel infrastructure in the United States can tolerate a 20 or 30 or 40 percent penetration of diesel.”

Long-term Limitations of the Technology

Clean diesel engine technology is ready to roll out today, but can it produce significant long-term improvements on par with plug-in hybrids, battery-electric vehicles and fuel cell cars? “The only technology currently available that can get us a step-function improvement of 25 to 30 percent fuel economy is diesel,” said Reginald Modlin, director of environmental affairs, Chrysler. “But all the regulatory drivers are driving us to 35, 40, 45 percent improvements. This great technology is merely a step into what we do for the longer term future.” Adding micro-hybrid “stop-start” technology to diesel engines could push diesel to the higher levels of efficiency.

Persistent Negative Consumer Perception

“Our highest challenge is to overcome the bad reputation of diesel as dirty and smelly,” said Rueger. “People who drive the new diesels in our test fleet literally do not believe there’s a diesel engine in there.”


  • reviews

    The key is biodiesel-fueled super-effcient clean diesel hybrids. All these technologies need to be combined to make the “clean, green and fun to drive” diesel car.

  • Andreas

    @ review
    yes, and litteraly nobody can afford this kind of car (and nobody has yet desigend a car that can fit clean diesel supplement and high voltage batteries……)

  • Jay

    Diesel are only efficient for heavy cars!

    I think there is quite some misconception. A Diesel engine is only – and only fuel efficient in heavy cars. Efficiency then is really realtive. Since heavy, they are still environmentally questionalble. A Diesel engine is a complex and heavy engine, that does not pay off for lighter or even smaller cars or mid-size cars.
    So here is an example, take a typical German Family car such as the OPEL Zafira (which not really is a small car) and go to the OPEL site and check out if the Diesel is really more efficient than the gasoline engine. You will find, that it is absolutely not!!!! The Diesel produces exactly the same amount of CO2 per kilometer and PS like the equivalent gasoline car! Contrary, the current Zafira model sold in Europe is not even a clean Diesel yet. If it were coming with a good filter, it would actually produce more CO2 per kilometer! Check it out yourself:
    http://www.opel.de/shop/cars/zafiranew/product/engine/content.act

  • Old Man Crowder

    Great for the C02, but what about air pollution? I’m pretty sure diesels — new and old — produce a lot more smog-forming chemicals.

    And perhaps this falls under the “public perception” obstacle, but aren’t diesels a little more tempermental under cold conditions? Not a big deal in Florida, but will have implications for the northern states.

  • BigMcLargeHuge

    @ Jay

    That’s not really true at all. On a per-torque basis, a properly functioning diesel will always be more fuel efficient than an equivalent gas engine. Even in your Opel example, the most powerful diesel engine (at the bottom) consumes fewer L/km than the weakest petrol engine (top). If you were referring to the 1.6L engine in the middle, that one runs on Cryogenically Liquified Natural Gas (CNG).

    There actually is nothing in your post that is accurate, despite reading right off of a page you linked.

  • BigMcLargeHuge

    In response to Old Man Crowder;

    If you burn diesel and gas without catalysts, yes diesel produces more smog-forming pollutants. So historically, that is correct.

    But as of now, diesels being sold in the US will be required to meet the same stringent exhaust requirements. So if it is being sold in the US next year, it cannot be any dirtier than gas because of the particulate filter and harmless urea-injection to neutralize the nitrous-oxide fumes.

    Historically also were the problems with starting diesels in cold weather. The newer Subaru, Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Acura diesels have all gone through ‘Arctic’ testing. The technology has caught up so that there is little real disadvantage in any weather.

    As for the refining and pricing… that’s a problem, and a valid argument.

  • GR

    Diesel 2.5 fuel sounds like a great option. While diesel hybrid options are expensive, everything is expensive when it first enters a market. Very few carmakers wanted to make hybrids because it was expensive…at first. Now as more automakers share technologies and generate more sales that technology has become less expensive. The same is true for hybrid diesels (even if they are only adopted in large cars, Jay).

    I hope to see sometime in the future where we have an option between gasoline or diesel plug-in hybrids or range-extended electric vehicles with a gasoline or diesel option.

  • BigMcLargeHuge

    Very true GR,

    Competition is good. Competition between brands forces higher-quality products. Competition between technologies forces more research and development.

    If hybrid technology exists by itself, we’ll all just assume it’s the best available and won’t demand technological advancement.

    If hybrid competes with diesel, they will both have to continually improve to gain and retain market share. As for a ‘best’ option, it is probably a combination of the two.

  • Jay

    BigMcLargeHuge,

    yous seem to overlook that it does not matter how many liter/kilomter (liters per kilometers) one needs but rather how much pollution in terms of for instance CO2 per kilometer is produced. One liter of Diesel produces a 13.5 % more CO2 than a liter of gasoline. So please, be fair and compare what matters to nature. If you then look at the numbers, the picture changes. The best Diesel engine gives you hardly a 10% advantage. Yet, the there is not yet a clean Diesel built in the German versions, which will cost you an additional 5 to 10%! So, finally, there is no advantage of a Diesel over a gasonline engine for this mid-size cars. If cars get smaller the Diesel can no longer keep up. If Cars get heavier, the Diesel seems advantageous. The issue with the smallest cancerogenous particles remains however.
    In terms of torque you are right. A Diesel has a better acceleration over a gasoline car. Yet a full Hybrid has the best acceleration. There is hardly any engine that can keep up with the acceleration of an electric engine.

  • Anonymous

    Jay,

    Still no,

    On a per-torque basis, the efficiency of the diesel can be from 50-100% better. Even in small cars. But because they are slower due to an inability to revv high, they tend to pile on the torque in diesel cars so that the acceleration is roughly equivalent. Even with 30% more torque, the diesel powered BMW’s, Subaru’s, and Audi’s will be ~30% more fuel efficient, even with particulate filters when arriving in the States. Mercedes already has Bluetec’s getting 20-30% better efficiency than the equivalent gasoline powered model, with even more torque but the same acceleration. That counteracts the 13% more C02 per liter.

    If they could get the price down, diesel is a good option.

    And what hybrid/electric car currently has good acceleration? This may be true for some concept cars and limited-production lightwieght models, and may be true in the distant future. But as of now the best accelerating cars are good ole’ fashioned forced-induction gasoline engines with conventiaonal manual or sequential-manual gearboxes.

    I can see where you’re going, and there is potential with electric motors, but you really haven’t correctly represented any of these disciplines yet.

  • Andy

    It’s kind of hard to compare diesels to current electric cars, considering there essentially aren’t any.

    But getting into a torque/acceleration argument with an electric motor is a losing proposition since it doesn’t have instantaneous limitations the way ICEs do. The practical limitation on the acceleration of electric propulsion is overwhelmingly to do with the energy consumption trade off.

    In other words, electric cars are *not* weak at all in acceleration. Instead, they are weak in endurance (battery limitations) and so acceleration has been deliberately sacrificed to in order to conserve endurance. If you don’t care about range, look at the Wrightspeed X1 prototype (which I have ridden in). It does 0-60 mph in like 3.9s.

  • Andy

    Jay says: “A Diesel engine is a complex and heavy engine”

    Heavy, yes.
    Complex, no.

    Diesels need no ignition system since they ignite from pressure. High pressure requires a more substantial block, which must be heavier.

    There may be more complexity now in the emission system of a Diesel, but that’s not the engine.

  • BigMcLargeHuge

    Actually, diesel engines don’t necessarily have to have ‘heavy’ blocks. They need to have ‘strong’ blocks because of the high compression and vibration.

    Now historically this has been one and the same, with only heavy grade cast iron being used for diesel engine blocks, while most upscale gasoliine engines have moved on to aluminum.

    But Subaru broke the mold with the Boxer Diesel. Since the engine block on a boxer is just that – a square block of metal – they found that even aluminum in this configuration had enough rigidity and low vibration.

    So the most modern diesels aren’t any more complex, noisy, or heavy than a gasoline engine.

  • Jay

    Andy,

    a Diesel is a very complex engine. I just was an advisor to a Ph.D. candidate who had to build the control system of a next generation Diesel engine. If anything is complex – a Diesel is! The fact, that there is no ignition makes it particularly difficult, because the ignition only starts at a correct pressure and correct temperature for the correct Diesl mix. The effort of a Diesel is only worth it for a heavy car. An electric engine is simple however and has good performance. Look at the Prius, for instance, at a stop signal – they usually bypass all other cars when signal siwtches due to the excellent acceleration.
    Speaking of simplicity – an electric engine gives you the reverse gear almost for free. If we would put as much effort into electric cars as is put into Diesel, we likely would be much, much further.

  • BigMcLargeHuge

    Jay,

    Still no,

    Pre-detonation is something to be cautious of in gasoline engines, and air/fuel ratios is of the upmost importance. diesels will ignite much richer or much leaner than gasoline engines. And you could actually ignite gasoline or kerosene in a diesel engine. So you are wrong about the mix altogether.

    What you meant to say was timing. It is important that compression-ignition engines inject fuel when the piston is at TDC, and at high pressure. Similar to the timing of spark plugs in gasoline engines. The technology of both improves at a similar rate, and neither is inherently more complex.

    And I knew you’d go there with the acceleration of the Prius. That is a silly claim. The Prius has a 0-60 time of 10.2 seconds. That is an absolute eternity. Most people don’t mash the throttle at every stoplight. If they did, the Prius would lose in a true dragrace against most cars on the American highways, including many large trucks and SUVs.

    And the gains are just as good for light vehicles as heavy vehicles. The 2009 Jetti TDI (with US-spec emissions equipment) will get the same overall economy as the Prius.

    We haven’t put as much effort into clean diesel as we have for hybrids, so I don’t know where that is coming from. If we did…. they would be on the road a long time ago. But 2009 will be the first model year for many clean diesels.

    Electric motors don’t inherently have better acceleration. All motor types, whether mechanical, electric, or hydraulic can only transfer input energy to output energy.

    Electric motors are also very heavy, and waste critical materials. Speaking of heavy, having both a gasoline engine, battery pack and hybrid driveline adds considerable weight to a vehicle.

    I feel sorry for the PhD candidate you are advising. I’m sorry, but you really have misguided conceptions about modern diesel engines.

  • Jeff

    5 years ago it was easy to find diesel fuel and it has been declining for the past 7 years and stations advertising prices. Fewer are caring it. It seems the market is due to fail for whatever reason (government). I own a 2006 Ford F-350 Super Duty I bought to pull my travel trailer. I can not even afford to drive it let alone pull my trailer on vacation. They sit and have not moved since September 2007. Diesel is the cheapest fuel to produce so why is it the most expensive? Diesel moves this country. Trains transport goods, Trucks transport goods. The cost and lack of concern for diesel is costing every American in their pocketbook. So those who do not believe and don’t care look at what necessities cost you because of the increase in diesel and the lack of support, research and development of even more fuel efficient diesel. Urge your congressmen to bring the price of the most reasonable fuel made to an affordable price to move goods across the country. Maybe Scotty can “Beam” the goods right to your door so we have no emmissions of course the molecular structure could be different when it arrives. Wake up America!

  • BigMcLargeHuge

    Actually, I’ll take it a step further. I’ll go ahead and guess what this engineer’s goal is:

    To lean out the air/fuel mixture with an extremely fast pulse of high-pressure fuel in a high-compression chamber.

    In a nutshell; shrink the displacement, cut back on fuel, add boost and fuel pressure. Enjoy the torque and economy.

    Because that is where the big gains are with diesels. There is so much more energy packed into a gallon of diesel, that we are nowhere near the maximum efficiency of that process yet.

    Now all of these features need to be fine-tuned to the Nth degree to reach ideal efficiency. That’s just R&D. New materials, new software.

  • Jay

    BigMcLargeHuge,

    I do not see why any of my statements should be wrong. You seem to confirm that there are complex issues such as the correct mix, timing,….

    Anyhow, I guess you must be from within the Diesel car industry. That is OK – at least for trucks and other heavy vehicles. At the end of the day the result matters.

    As of today, show me a reasonable sized car with the CO2 emission of a Prius.
    As for the future – like 2009 – lets compare the same with the same. In 2009 the next generation of Prius will likely drive – according to rumors between 70 and 100 mpg of gasoline – not Diesel. Rember – Diesel has a 13.5% higher CO2 emission! So please show me the Diesel that can keep up.

  • BigMcLargeHuge

    If you think that everyone who knows more than you about how engines work is from the auto industry, then that would be just about everyone else here. I have no affiliation, just a lot of time working under hoods.

    Lets see, you were wrong about mixtures, Prius acceleration, the 5-10% advantage, complexity, and the OPEL example. Does that help?

    You said “the effort of a diesel is only worth it for a heavy car”
    That makes no sense when it is only as complex as a gasoline engine, and drastically simpler than a hybrid drivetrain.

    First, we’re not going on the rumors. Only what exists. Show me a test of the Prius done this year that confirms 70-100 mpg.

    The Golf TDI Hybrid exists. It has been tested, and it gets 26% better mileage than the Prius.

    Whatever a gas hybrid can do, a diesel hybrid can do 20-30% better.

    Plug-ins are another matter. Over half of the US power grid is supplied by fossil fuels, which average just shy of 1kg CO2/kWh. So on average, plug-in users will be forcing the use of 500 gCO2/kWh. The plug-in Prius will have a 2.6kWh battery. So About 1.2 kg CO2 for a full charge. That full charge will carry it 8km. That is 150g/km C02.

    And all my calculations were modest. Its actually much worse than that, but I’ll give the benefit of the doubt.

    So electricity from your wall, while much cheaper, is actually polluting more than a VW Jetta diesel. A mid-sized car with no hybrid drivetrain.

  • simon@aus

    I think hybrid cars will be able to develop more than diesel.
    What is a hybrid? It’s just a big application of electrical technology mixed with an ICE. The electrical component of a hybrid system can benefit from developments in other industries, such as the computer industry – how much research has been spent there, that has indirectly benefited the development of hybrid cars – heaps I would think.

    And anyone thinking that power from a wall is dirty – well, all the processes for creating fuel are inherently dirty as well.

  • Shines

    Jay, I don’t know why you insist diesels are for larger vehicles only. I’m sure one could engineer a diesel motorcycle if needed. The article this is based on is about the new clean diesel. This isn’t the same as the diesels in current vehicles. It has a filter up front that increases the amount of oxygen available to the engine to burn the deisel fuel more efficiently and therefor cleaner and even more efficient than existing deisels. It includes an additional filter on the exhaust to remove more particles so in effect the engine cleans the air. I feel I have to repeat this because so much of this discussion seems to have missed the point. A more efficient engine that burns less fuel and therefor pollutes less is a good thing.
    The article goes on to point out the problems. The biggest one I see is that there is only a certain percentage of diesel in a barrel of oil. It is much less that gasoline. This is why diesel fuel is already more expensive than gasoline. Having more diesel vehicles (efficient or not) on the road will only make the fuel more expensive. Still more options is better than less

  • BigMcLargeHuge

    Simon,

    I’ll agree if the claim is that diesel is the ideal ICE and when combined with hybrid technology yields double the results.

    There is no reason they have to be competitive. I submit that if the Prius were diesel-electric rather than gasoline-electric, it would get 26% better economy like the Golf TDI Hybrid.

    Shines,

    There actually are diesel lawnmowers and 4-wheelers for when you need some serious pulling power, efficiency, and longevity.

    Be careful not to confuse distillation with refining. A common misconception is that what is distilled from a barrel of oil stays that way. That is only half the process. ‘Refining’ involves combining longer and shorter length hydrocarbon chains to make final products.

    In the US, we refine over 50% of all of a barrel’s contents into… you guessed it, gasoline. Only about 20% diesel, some kero and LPG on the side.

    In Europe they actually refine about 40% gasoline, 40% diesel. Its supply/demand.

    Our infrastructure is set up to support huge gasoline demand. More gasoline refineries, more pumps at your local service station. That is what drives the price up, and unfortunately all of that will have to be reorganized before supply meets demand and prices normalize. Could take years.

  • Jay

    BigMcLargeHuge,

    You state: “you were wrong about mixtures, Prius acceleration, the 5-10% advantage, complexity, and the OPEL example”

    Sorry BigMcLarge – I am correct:

    Getting the correct air/Diesel mixtures really is a an issue in Diesel. Really.
    Guess why a Diesel engine costs more than a gasonline engine. That is for the additional complexity – not just for fun. Since they sell as many gasonline as Diesel engines in Europe the addional margin is not just because of fewer mass production. Go to the resective web site and check out prices – please.

    The “Opel” example – by all means – is correct. Again, what matters is not the mpg – what matters is the production of CO2. It is simply not correct to go by mpg when at the end of the day the CO2 matters. Oh yes, and please add the addional consumption that the clean Diesel needs. There really is no advantage left – at least at the current state-of-the-art.

    The Prius acceleration: Indeed is really good – Diesel might be better. Here you might be correct.

    The statement, that an electric or hybrid car is comlex is simply nonsense. So far they are based on reasonably known electric machines with very few moving parts. They will get much better and complexer in the future – sure. Also, they have some complexity in the electronics and software. And indeed, momentarily Hybrids are more expensive – but that is largely due to the prices of batteries not for complexity.

    To combine the Diesel and Hybrid into one might indeed be the best solution. Well, let’s hope we can pay for it. And, yes, a Diesel engine needs the correct engine temperature to work best – so it is not clear to me if one can switch off the engine and drive electrically every now and again with a Diesel without too much Diesel dust.

    I guess, I have to stop the discussion now. Since there are other duties waiting for me. Was fun though talking with you.

  • BigMcLargeHuge

    Jay,

    Still no,

    Getting the correct air/fuel ratio (if that is what you mean by mixture) is helpful for higher efficiency in a diesel, but they have a higher tolerance for a range of mixtures. A gasoline engine’s peak efficiency is around 12:1 to 17:1 AFR. Thats not changing anytime soon. Just the limitations of gasoline. Run too much leaner than 20:1 and you have pre-detonation. Very bad for the heads.

    Diesels are capable of operating from 20:1 to 100:1 AFR. Run too rich, you lubricate the cylinder. In the future, it is important to strive for higher AFRs. There is no ‘correct’ AFR like there is in a gasoline engine. And the number is a moving target.

    I’m still not sure what you’re going on about with the OPEL example. You were wrong 2x in the same post. First on mileage, then on CO2. Lets break it down so you understand.

    OPEL (gCO2/km)
    Gas Diesel
    169 138
    172 152
    197 194
    228 152
    230 194

    Uhhh… even taking the low gasoline figures and the high diesel figures… the diesels are averaging significantly lower in CO2 emissions.

    Do not use cost as a measure of complexity. Diesels are primarily more expensive because of the manufacture of a very strong block. Also, they hold value longer because they have much greater average longevity (due in part to their simplicity and strength), and you pay for it at purchase time.

    There are already US-spec clean diesels on the road getting 30% better mileage than gas counterparts. Adding the extra filter raises the price, but it does not hurt efficiency noticeably.

    Prius acceleration sucks.

    This is not simple:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e9/Hybridcombined.png/400px-Hybridcombined.png

    Hybrid drivetrains add extra units to a relatively simple conventional driveline. They are pretty much 2x as complex.

    I’ve seen plenty of people bat 0.000 and defend it before. Many pretend to know about cars, and I find it entertaining when they try. Keep going, this is better than a sitcom.

  • M

    Your comments per diesel would you please read the article in Ingear Sunday Times [UK] March 16th for diesel vs hybrid.
    Diesel obviously outclassing the hybrid proves that any technology to save the planet must be used for us all, As asthma sufferer for a number of years being of the age of 60 now not being a earlier sufferer in childhood untill my 30s. I was then a regular jogger in the town of Reading, Berkshire, England i then developed asthma out of the unknown at this time diesel i.e commerical vehicles were blamed for this condition in urban developments, Strangely i tried at this point to prove whether this is correct so in having a diesel i directly breathe in fumes from my Ford Diesel car correspondly had no effect but fumes from Petrol cars did give me an asthma attack. Quite immportanly i found that volvos were the worsed for my attacks. So environmentally friendly at that time although now owned by Ford America was dangerous to my health. Please remeber that the first diesel engine relied on peanut oil (God bless the State of Georgia ) who should be making money out of this shortage of fuel in the present world circumstances. One should look at the best benifits for man kind regardless of there country and boundaries we all live in one world.

  • Jim B on PEI

    A “relatively simple” solution for the “wrong” refinery mix at present in North America…get people away from using heating oil furnaces, or where it is problematic like where I live, to insist all installations be hi-eff. I did that changeover 10 years ago, and the saving in oil paid for the new furnace ($3500) within 3 years. My 2007 installed Cansolair ($2500) solar-air heater cuts my heating oil use even further, payback time less than 3 years also. Next year, I’m going solar-water with solar-cell powered pumps from my infloor heating, About $5-6000)-payback time 3-4 years too) and then, well all that heating oil will become available to sell instead…as diesel which will power my next car, hopefully a non-turbo HDI diesel car running on ULSD or a dino/bio diesel blend. Continuous evolution, not catastrophicly expensive revolution. Until very recently, solar-water heating was not completely feasible for the average joe/jill in a Northern climate. Now it is. Good thing I didn’t invest in one of those $30,000 geothermal setups.
    Now, about diesel cleanliness and mileage…a little comparative checking on total range of exhaust emissions on a reasonable basis such as number of BTUs available to do useful work per unit of fuel over a distance, might reveal that the new ULSD fuel running in HDI (or a TDI–but why add huge costs and complexity with a turbo?) multi-phase injection diesels are actually very cost effective and very clean

  • BigMcLargeHuge

    I just learned that the 2008 World Green Car Award went to the BMW 1-series diesel. So I did a little homework.

    http://bmw120d.com/

    In Europe, BMW has a 1-series 4-door hatchback diesel which gets 45mpg US. Or a 1-series coupe which gets 50mpg US.

    They are the second diesel manufacturer to develop an all-aluminum lightweight block. And there is no doubt in my mind that a 1-series hatchback diesel would handle and accelerate far better than a Prius.

    So as to the claim that diesels are not useful in small cars… rubbish.

  • Shines

    BigMcLargeHuge, Thanks for straightening out Jay. Don’t know why he insists Diesels need to be big and produce more CO2. Thanks also for clarifying the issue between distilling and refining oil into diesel – I had been misinformed. Kudos to BMW for the green car award.
    But as far as Prius acceleration sucking – no it’s OK. The Prius is not a performance car. Sure the BMWs do better, You can’t get a new beemer for < $24K... The Prius is also a bigger car than the 1 series...
    Anyway I hope the clean diesels grab more of the US market. It is certainly a much better tachnology than ICE.

  • BigMcLargeHuge

    Shines,

    No thanks are in order, it was my pleasure.

    On the Hybridcars.com and others forums, I find there are a great many people who are pre-dispositioned, close-mindedly opinionated. They must all work for political action groups or something, because they all feel that if they shout the loudest they get to be right. Strange conversational angle if you ask me. When there’s a right and a wrong answer, emotions don’t factor into it.

    Back on topic, sorry to be hard on the Prius.
    It is certainly adequate for light-to-light driving, which is what it is designed for. There’s no need to outrun the herd at every light. And it proves nothing.

    One thing about the 1-series is it comes in a 5-door hatch over the Pond. So it really has utility to go along with that performance. Expensive, yes.

    The biggest obstacle is our supply chain management. Jim mentioned heating oil efficiency. That’s not a bad idea. Many people burn too many gallons in their furnaces. Gasoline doesn’t have that type of competition.

    The second challenge is refining distribution. When they close down a refinery for maintenance, they have the ability to re-open as diesel refining. We somehow need to convince the refiners and distributors that we want the supply so they’d better plan for it.

  • HELLO_NURSE

    I HAD A 1986 VOLKSWAGON GOLF DIESEL THAT GOT ABOUT 50 MILES TO THE GALLON. THAT WASN’T A “CLEAN DIESEL” BUT COMPARED TO THE MOST EFFICIENT AMERICAN CARS OF THE TIME, ABOUT 25 MPG, IT WAS PRETTY GOOD.

  • Anonymous

    has anyone heard of microdiesel? diesel that is naturally produced by a mold that was recently discovered called c-13?

  • SilverStar R. Heggisist

    You all would hate my diesel 3500, because I can fill a whole intersection with smoke in about 30 seconds. However that same 6.5L engine gets about 20 mpg, that doesn’t sound like much exept that if it had a comparable gasoline engine is would get closer to 10 mpg.
    Also CO2 isn’t as bad as you would think, thanks to the CO2 from gas and diesel engines trees and other plant life can produce more food which allows them to grow faster and stronger. Since I live in the country smog is not an issue. It could be argued that the problem with smog forming emitions is not with the emitions but instead with so many people living in cities that trap the gasses, and the lack of plants in cities to capture the CO2.