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Transportation & Fuel Source Technology

New Year Ushers in New Era of Clean Diesel Trucks

With new clean diesel heavy-duty engines set to roll off of assembly lines nationwide this year, the diesel industry demonstrated today it has met the technological and regulatory challenges of manufacturing trucks that produce up to 90 percent fewer emissions than the previous generation of diesels, helping to usher in a new era of clean air progress.

"This new year signals the arrival of a new generation of clean diesel trucks that will fundamentally change the way people think about diesel engine technology in this country," said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. "New clean diesel trucks sold beginning in 2007 will produce 90 percent fewer emissions of particles and significantly lower emissions of nitrogen oxide [NOx] than trucks built in 2006. The exhaust from these trucks is so clean they even pass the 'white handkerchief test,' and more importantly, they will play a key role in helping states and communities around the country meet more stringent clean air goals."

Developing these new generation clean diesel engines and trucks has required industry-wide multi-billion dollar engineering and research investments by emissions control manufacturers and engine and truck makers that have been underway since the beginning of this decade. In addition to requiring the use of ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel, these trucks and engines deploy the latest state-of-the-art technology in engine management, fuel injection, emissions reduction and turbocharging innovations.

"With the seamless transition to cleaner diesel fuel last October, we're confident that these new advanced technology trucks will soon hit the streets and highways with even greater success," Schaeffer added. "These trucks are the most tested in history, racking up millions of miles in real-world pre- production fleet-testing programs," continued Schaeffer. Achieving extremely low emissions is technically demanding because engines must meet the low standards for at least 435,000 miles. Manufacturers must also simultaneously optimize key customer attributes such as fuel efficiency, operating costs, maintainability and reliability.

"Manufacturers are ready to deliver new clean trucks with the power and performance truckers demand," Schaeffer added. "Growth in the economy means growth in moving goods and trucking, and diesel trucks are the lifeblood of moving goods in this country, accounting for 94 percent of consumer retail items delivered to store shelves. Diesel's unique combination of energy efficiency, reliability and durability has made it the undeniable choice for the nation's trucking industry."

This year -- 2007 -- is the first step toward near-zero emissions for diesel truck engines. Additional changes take place in the 2010 model year that will further reduce NOx by a total of 90 percent from 2004 levels.

Clean diesel will ultimately bring emissions reductions across a range of applications, including:
  • Trucks and Buses -- New trucks and buses will be the first class of equipment to benefit from clean diesel. While 2006 trucks or buses already produced only one-eighth the tailpipe exhaust compared to those built in 1990, new vehicles will be even cleaner. It will take 60 trucks built in 2007 to equal the soot emissions of one truck sold in 1988. The EPA predicts that these new trucks will reduce emissions of smog-forming gases by 2.6 million tons each year and cut soot emissions by 110,000 tons annually once they fully replace the existing fleet.
  • Increased Demand For New Fuel -- The roll-out of these new cleaner engines follows the October 2006 introduction of ULSD fuel, containing only 15 parts per million (ppm) sulfur content, compared to 500 ppm for the old fuel, for a 97 percent reduction in sulfur. Clean diesel fuel is critically important because sulfur tends to hamper the effectiveness of diesel exhaust-control devices, much the way lead once obstructed the catalytic converters on gasoline cars.
  • Passenger Vehicles -- Clean diesel technology -- designed to deliver 20-40 percent greater fuel economy -- also can be found in several new diesel cars, trucks and SUVs, the market for which is expected to expand in the next several model years, according to auto industry forecasting experts.
  • Construction Equipment -- Since 1996, when EPA first issued emissions regulations for off-road equipment, industry has made dramatic progress. For some categories of equipment, such as backhoes and excavators, emissions levels have already been reduced by more than 80 percent. Off-road machines and equipment will also move toward adoption of clean diesel fuel and technology starting June 1, 2007 with the use of low-sulfur diesel required for off-road machines.
The Diesel Technology Forum is a partner in the Clean Diesel Fuel Alliance, which provides a resource on technical issues regarding the introduction of the cleaner fuel and engine technology.

The Diesel Technology Forum is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the economic importance and environmental progress of diesel engines and equipment. Forum members represent the three parts of the modern clean diesel system: advanced engines, cleaner diesel fuel and effective emissions control systems.

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