Clean Diesel and the Environment

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The term “Clean Diesel” has gotten quite a bit of coverage in the media lately. Fuel producers, manufacturers of diesel vehicles, environmental groups and government agencies have spent heavily in time and money promoting and improving this technology, with the ultimate goal of lower diesel vehicle emissions. Lowering these emissions while retaining the fuel economy advantage and reliability of diesel power requires advanced technology and innovation, as well as the ability to control the whole diesel combustion process. Here is a quick explanation of Clean Diesel, what makes up the technology, and what Clean Diesel innovation means to the environment.

Clean Diesel Technology

Clean Diesel is a combination of other technologies acting together to produce cleaner emissions from diesel fuel. Advanced electronics, precise control of diesel fuel injection and combustion, treatment of exhaust gas, and fuel formulation all play a part in advancing Clean Diesel technology.

Diesel engines remain the backbone of the commercial transportation fleet because they are the most efficient and reliable combustion engine. Opposition to diesel has been based on two things; particulate and gas (Nitrogen Oxide) emissions. Particulate emissions cause the ugly, black smoke and gas emissions may be related to ozone pollution.

Diesel Particulate Reduction

Diesel engines are Direct Injection, meaning diesel fuel is injected directly into the cylinder. The short time that fuel and air have to mix means that unless the mixture and dispersal of fuel is exact, there is incomplete combustion which results in particulate emission. The current way of controlling diesel particulate emissions involves using a Diesel Particulate Filter, storing excess carbon and occasionally burning it off. Using a DPF is effective in controlling particulate, but it solves a symptom of incomplete combustion rather than solving the problem.

A better way is to control the diesel fuel injection and air systems precisely, resulting in complete diesel fuel combustion and greater engine efficiency. Using a DPF to filter incomplete combustion only treats the symptom. Advanced diesel combustion technology solves the problem.

Nitrous Oxide Reduction

Nitrous Oxide emissions happen when diesel fuel is burned over the optimum temperature. Manufacturers currently use two methods to reduce these emissions. First, using Exhaust Gas Recirculation, diesel combustion temperatures are reduced by introducing inert exhaust back into the cylinder, reducing the volume of oxygen-containing air in the combustion chamber. Less oxygen, less energy, less temperature. Second, Nitrous Oxide is reduced after combustion through a catalytic converter. With the mandate of Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel, these converters are efficient enough to be effective. Again, while both of these methods are effective in reducing emissions, they are treating the symptom, rather than solving the problem.

A better, more efficient way to solve the temperature problem is exact control of all three elements of combustion; fuel, air and compression. If you can manage the complete diesel combustion process precisely, you get a dramatic reduction in Nitrous Oxide gas emissions as a result.