Diesel will remain as the dominant fuel for commercial vehicles, even as alternative fuels and powertrain options become more viable.
That was the message from Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, when speaking at the ACT Research North American Commercial Vehicle and Transportation Industries seminar.
He said diesel will retain its dominant role due to continuous improvements in emissions reductions and efficiencies.
“Diesel is the gold standard, the technology of choice for more than 97% of all heavy-duty commercial trucks today, thanks to several unique features: power, performance, durability, efficiency – the combination of which has proven unbeatable,” said Schaeffer. “Over the last 15 years, truck and engine makers have worked to virtually eliminate emissions from diesel engines. The transition to ultra-low sulphur diesel fuel coupled with advancements in engine combustion, turbocharging and high-pressure fuel injection, and the addition of advanced emissions controls like selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and particulate filters, has enabled today’s heavy-duty diesel truck engines to achieve near-zero levels of emissions.”
He noted more than one third of all the largest heavy-duty trucks in operation are using the newest generation of near-zero emissions clean diesel technology.
“This translates into substantial societal benefits: tonnes of nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide removed from the air; 98% fewer emissions of particulate matter; and thousands of dollars in fuel-cost savings for truckers, adding up to millions of barrels of crude oil saved,” Schaeffer said.
As new alternative fuels and powertrain options emerge, Schaeffer said diesel will still have a role to play.
“Some of the greatest promise will be in finding the best of both worlds of both established and new powertrain and fuel options to optimize freight efficiency for the trucking customer, whether that be over the road trucking to last-mile pick-up and delivery,” he said. “Joint industry and U.S. Department of Energy SuperTruck programs have contributed substantially to commercializing technologies today that continue to push engine and truck efficiency to the point of now doubling the mpg of previous generations of commercial trucks. This all adds up to lower fuel costs for truckers, and lower carbon dioxide and other emissions into the environment.”