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Published on October 22nd, 2007 | by Stephanie Evans


Cleaner Diesel

Since diesel fuel boasts a higher energy content per liter, automobiles that utilize diesel fuel generally have better fuel efficiency than gasoline powered cars and trucks.  Diesel is also less damaging to the environment as it produces 70 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline engines.  Yet before we can go ahead and call petroleum-based diesel fuel an eco friendly product, we have to look at one other aspect of this fuel.

Unlike gasoline, petroleum-based diesel fuel has an extremely high sulfur content.  Although sulfur oxide is not a greenhouse gas, it is one of the pollutants that contribute to acid rain.  Environmentally, acid rain destroys eco systems by killing rivers and lakes, destroying plants and trees, and breaking down carbonate rocks.

Diesel fuel has made an attempt to clean up its image.  As of October 15, 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency has set new standards to reduce sulfur content in diesel fuel.  This ultra low sulfur diesel, or clean diesel, will be the de facto standard in the United States by the year 2010.  Joining the fight against pollutants, other countries such as Canada, China, Taiwan, Singapore, and much of the European Union have established clean diesel standards as well.

Reducing the amount of sulfur in diesel fuel does remove quite a bit of the fuel’s lubrication.  Other steps are being taken to help reduce the wear on a diesel engine due to this loss, however with the growing popularity of biodiesel fuels, there appears to be less need to sink research dollars into this technology.

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