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‘Clean diesel’ poised for greater environmental role

With the United States moving to implement stronger environmental and fuel economy standards, clean diesel fuel is poised to take on an even greater role in the U.S. transportation market, according to a new Hart Energy Consulting report released by the Diesel Technology Forum, a nonprofit organization that promotes the use of diesel engines, fuel and technology.

Representing 20 percent of refined petroleum product demand, diesel use has been increasing at an annual rate of 2.8 percent for the past five years, Hart reports. U.S. diesel demand is expected to increase 1.7 to 2.0 percent per year over the next decade, driven largely by the heavy-duty transportation sector and by pending fuel economy and climate policy initiatives that will increase diesel use among automobiles.

The diesel industry is in the midst of implementing advanced engine and emissions control technology that will lower emissions from on- and off-road vehicles and equipment by more than 98 percent compared to 2000-era technology. With superior fuel economy up to 35 percent better than gasoline vehicles, diesel provides a strong option for meeting efficiency requirements while maintaining performance and power, according to the report.

Another indicator of increased current and future diesel sales, the percentage of gas stations offering diesel fuel increased from 35.4 percent in 1997 to 52.1 percent in 2007. The Hart report predicts sales of clean diesel automobiles in the United States will increase from just 2 percent in 2009 to 8.5 percent in 2020.

“The significant growth in diesel car sales forecast for the United States has already occurred in other regions of the world,” notes Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. “The Hart report highlights that in the European market, diesel car sales have increased from 32.1 percent in 2000 to an astounding 53.3 percent in 2007. The new emission and higher mileage standards mandated by the federal government will increase the importance of diesel autos for American drivers.”

Because of diesel fuel’s inherent attributes—its energy density, low-sulfur content, widespread availability and compatibility with biofuels—it is easy to recognize diesel’s emergence as a leading fuel of the future, Schaeffer adds. “Diesel offers energy and environmental improvement without the need for development of an infrastructure to support the advanced technology [as required by electric vehicles]. Diesel’s unique capability to utilize a range of renewable fuels and blends enhances its desirability under emerging renewable fuel requirements.”

For more information, visit www.dieselforum.org.


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