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Clean Diesel Benefits Explained

Clean Diesel Benefits Explained

The success of private industry, government, environmental and health organizations in working to replace older diesel engines with near-zero emission clean diesel technology has reaped significant air quality improvements in the Midwest and throughout the United States, according to the Diesel Technology Forum.

In a presentation to the Midwest Clean Diesel Initiative in Chicago recently, Ezra Finkin, the director of policy for the Diesel Technology Forum, highlighted several of the clean air and health gains achieved over the past decade in reducing emissions from older diesel equipment.

The MCDI is a collaboration of federal, state and local agencies, along with communities, non-profit organizations and private companies all working together to reduce diesel emissions in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and 35 tribal nations. Finkin outlined how new clean diesel heavy duty trucks (model year 2010 or newer) with near-zero emission have significantly reduced emissions by:

Eliminating 8.3 million tons of NOx
Eliminating 43 million ton of CO2
Saving 2.9 billion gallons of diesel fuel (65 million barrels of oil)
Midwest is home to new diesel technology & manufacturing

Finkin, who serves as member of the MCDI Steering Committee, noted that the Midwest is a true home to clean diesel as many of the global leaders in diesel truck and equipment manufacturing are headquartered in the region. The region boasts a number of states with the highest percentage of new technology clean diesel equipment in operation. This includes Indiana, where almost 50 percent of the diesel trucks in operation have the latest near-zero emissions technology, the highest percentage in the nation. This is significant, Finkin said, because a single clean diesel Class 8 truck can eliminate over one ton of NOx emissions relative to a previous generation of diesel truck in just one year.

“Diesel engines manufactured to meet the model year 2010 standard actually generated less than half of the maximum allowable emissions of NOx and [particulate matter], which is a considerable margin of safety,” Finkin said.

Diesel overwhelmingly dominates Midwest truck market

Finkin also highlighted how diesel trucks were the overwhelming dominate fuel sources for Class 3-8 trucks in the Midwest with the following chart:

State Diesel Natural Gas
Illinois 391,646 1,371
Indiana 477,677 1,834
Iowa 169,468 245
Michigan 233,684 282
Minnesota 205,673 592
Missouri 224,575 566
Ohio 364,563 1,208
Wisconsin 214,446 832
Total 2,281,732 6,930

Vehicles in Operation, Dec. 31, 2015

Largest NOx reductions to come from new diesels

With economic sector across the U.S. depending on diesel power, including agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing and goods movement, the increased use of new diesel technology will provide immediate emissions benefits.

“Today, the greatest opportunity for NOx emission reduction is older commercial vehicles,” Finkin said, “and the largest reductions in emissions are possible by accelerating the uptake of new technology clean diesel vehicles.”

Clean diesel emission benefits would be immediate from VW mitigation funds
Finkin also outlined how the recently approved $2.7 billion Volkswagen emissions mitigation settlement could provide the opportunity for immediate clean air benefits – if it is allocated properly.

“Investing settlement dollars in the newest generation of clean diesel technology will enable all the Midwest and other regions to realize the most immediate clean air benefits from the available dollars. Other technologies meanwhile are more expensive and in many cases, require substantial investments in expensive infrastructure,” Finkin said. “Clean diesel is the more cost effective solution to provide near term benefits compared to [compressed natural gas] or electric vehicles.”

Finkin noted the investments needed to reduce 1 pound of NOx, as provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, are:

$86: clean diesel
$107: CNG
$165: battery electric