A truck driver who climbs aboard a new Class 8 tractor and drives 140 miles produces less fine particle emissions than a chef grilling a one-third pound hamburger.
This fun fact comes just 10 years after the introduction of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel for commercial trucks in 2006, according to the Diesel Technology Forum. The pro-diesel organization is recognizing the shift to cleaner diesel fuel and its importance in the major environmental accomplishments being celebrated during National Clean Air Month throughout May.
“Clean Air Month is a time to reflect on fulfilling the vision established by the Clean Air Act of 1970. It’s also an important time to take stock of the technologies that have enabled past progress and ones that will take us even closer to that vision in the future,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum.
“Along with taking lead out of gasoline, a lesser known but equally important success story of the Clean Air Act was the introduction of new ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel in 2006,” Schaeffer said. “This cleaner diesel fuel enabled the development of more efficient engines and emissions control technologies on the road today.
“Taken together, clean diesel fuel, emissions controls and advanced engine technologies have allowed new diesel engines to achieve near-zero emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter — levels that are 95 percent lower than in 2000.
To put this progress from diesel engines in perspective, consider that:
- More fine particle emissions come from grilling a one-third pound hamburger than from driving a new clean diesel tractor trailer 140 miles
- To generate a penny’s weight in nitrogen oxides a 1988 model year truck would have to drive 0.25 miles while a 2016 model clean diesel truck would have to drive 5 miles
- It would take 60 of today’s model heavy-duty truck to equal the particulate emissions of a single truck built back in 1988
- Today in Southern California, brake dust and tire wear contribute more to fine particle emissions than do heavy-duty diesel truck engines
- Since 2005, the number of light-duty diesel vehicles on the road has amounted to just around 3 percent of the entire light-duty fleet, but by choosing diesel over gasoline, consumers have eliminated 70 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions
- New diesel engines used in construction machines, farm tractors, marine vessels and railroad locomotives have cut emissions by over 95 percent compared to pre-2000 models.
“In its recent State of the Air Report, the American Lung Association noted that the removal of older diesel engines had reduced emissions nationwide and noted that diesel technology exists that can reduce emissions by 90 percent,” Schaeffer said.
“The Clean Air Act established important guideposts and a framework that are still as vital today as they were upon enactment. Flexibility and certainty in establishment and pursuit of new lower engine emissions levels, along with appropriate phase-in and timeframes for introducing new fuels and technologies have played a key role in achieving these dramatic emissions reductions.
“While new technology accomplishments are impressive, at the same time, innovative programs to modernize and upgrade emissions from existing engines and equipment have allowed us to attack the emissions challenge for older engines as well. The voluntary incentive-based Diesel Emissions Reduction Program has been successful in delivering more than $13 in health and environmental benefits for every $1 of investment.
“We envision further progress on both efficiency and emissions from new technology engines, and find the possibilities enhanced with expanded use of renewable biofuels. New technology clean diesel engines are expected to play an even greater role in personal transportation choices in cars, trucks and SUVs in the near future as part of vehicle manufacturer’s strategy to achieve new fuel efficiency goals as well as meet more stringent clean air standards by 2025,” Schaeffer said.