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33% of US trucks near zero emissions

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

According to new data released by HIS Automotive for the Diesel Technology Forum (DTF), more than a third of all medium and heavy duty commercial trucks registered in the US are now equipped with newer technology clean diesel engines. This is equivalent to 2.9 million of 8.8 million trucks.

The DTF has highlighted that 95% of all heavy-duty trucks are diesel powered, hence diesel plays a central role in efforts to reduce fuel consumption, promote energy security and lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Diesel also provides a unique technology platform suitable for expanded use of hybrid powertrains and lower carbon renewable fuels.

Allen Schaeffer, Executive Director of the DTF, said: “Because more than 95% of all heavy duty trucks are diesel-powered it is significant that more than one third of these trucks are near zero emissions vehicles. Diesel trucks are literally the driving force behind goods movement in the US and worldwide economies so the fact that the clean diesel fleet is increasing is good news for improved fuel efficiency and the environment. These new trucks are so clean that it now takes more than 60 of today’s clean diesel trucks to equal the emissions of a single 1988 truck.

“Last year was the fifth consecutive year of increased penetration of the new clean diesel trucks in the fleet, reflecting the continuing confidence that America truckers have in the performance and fuel efficiency improvements of new technology diesel engines”.

The role of the EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopted a rule making to establish stringent standards to reduce emissions in heavy-duty trucks and buses by 95% in December 2000. The rule also cut allowable levels of sulfur in diesel fuel by 97%.

Under the EPA’s 2007/2010 requirements, 100% of new on-road diesel trucks were required to meet zero particulate emissions standards and 50% were required to meet lower NOx exhaust standards. Beginning in 2010, 100% of new vehicles were required to meet the NOx standards.

In addition, a sulfur cap of 15 ppm was instituted in June 2006 for 80% of the diesel fuel sold by major refineries for use in highway vehicles. This cap was increased to 100% after December 2010.

In August 2011, the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) established a national program to reduce GHG emissions and establish new fuel efficiency standards beginning in 2014. Over the lifetime of the vehicles affected by the new rule, the program is expected to reduce oil consumption by more than 500 million bbls, generating more than US$ 50 billion in net benefits and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 250 million t.

Truck manufacturers are meeting the new targets through continued advancement in engine and after-treatment technologies along with advanced aerodynamics, transmission, tyre and other technologies that improve fuel economy. According to the NHTSA, technologies deployed to meet these rule will improve fuel economy for a typical long haul tractor by 20% by 2018. Fuel economy for many vocational vehicles will improve by 10% and work trucks by 15% by 2018.

Edited from various sources by Emma McAleavey.

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