Diesel vs. Clean Diesel: What's Really the Difference?

Diesel vs. Clean Diesel: What’s Really the Difference?

As many of you probably know, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is mandating the use of a new, cleaner-burning diesel fuel. This fuel, known as ultra-low sulphur diesel (ULSD), has replaced the diesel of years past thanks to its reduced sulfur content at only 15 parts per million (ppm).

According to the Diesel Technology Forum, ULSD contains 97% less sulfur than previous diesel fuels. Less sulfur in the fuel’s composition translates to less sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions from diesel vehicles. This is significant as sulfur emissions have been documented by the EPA for causing a variety of health and environmental problems, including:
But clean diesel is much more than just the use of this new federally mandated diesel fuel. Rather, clean diesel involves 3 distinctly different parts:

  • respiratory problems

  • lung damage

  • damage to vegetation

  • acid rain, and

  • atmospheric haze.

1. The fuel itself.

As we’ve already discussed, the reduced sulfur levels in ULSD have resulted in lower sulfur dioxide emissions and, consequently, lower environmental and health impacts.

2. The creation of new diesel engines specifically for ULSD.

The high sulfur content previously present in diesel fuel limited the range of innovation available in diesel engines. With the sulfur content now drastically reduced, engineers are now able to design and create a new line-up of more advanced engines. This includes Thomas Built Buses’ new Detroit DD5 engine - an engine that represents the best in fuel efficiency, durability, reliability, serviceability, and technology.

3. The ability for advanced emissions controls with ULSD.

Just as the previous high sulfur content was limiting the innovation of diesel engines, it was also hindering the ability to effectively control emissions. This new diesel fuel reduces emissions simply by its nature, but it doesn’t stop there. It also allows for the creation of more advanced emissions controls, such as exhaust treatment systems, which have overall reduced the emissions of diesel vehicles to near-zero levels.

So as you can see, the introduction of ultra-low sulfur diesel has not only improved the diesel fuel itself, but it has also thrown the doors wide open for innovation in the diesel industry. Diesel has reclaimed its rightful place alongside other alternative fuels as an environmentally friendly and sustainable fuel option.

No longer a “dirty” word in the transportation industry, diesel is 90% cleaner than it was in 2006, and, with the many other benefits of diesel over other fuels, it’s easy to see that clean diesel will be the fuel of the future.