We can be pretty sure that diesel engines will be with us for some time to come. There’s really nothing on the horizon that matches them for power density, low cost of ownership and operation, reliability, and availability of fuel, service and repair.
Battery-electric and fuel-cell electric trucks are making strides, but it could be as long as a decade before they become attractive alternatives to diesel in numbers large enough to matter.
Make no mistake, the industry is moving in that direction. But until then, regulators will push hard for ever-cleaner diesels. How is the industry doing in that regard? Surprisingly, well really — not that they get much credit for it.
Thanks to the introduction of cleaner fuels, advanced engine technology and particulate filters, both PM (particulate matter, aka soot) and NOx (nitrogen oxides) emissions have dropped by 98% since 1988. Diesel-related NOx emissions dropped by more than 40% between 2007 and 2017, while fine particle emissions (PM 2.5) from diesel engines declined by over 230,000 tons between 2008 and 2017, according to the Diesel Technology Forum.
This article originally appeared in Heavy-Duty Trucking on September 28, 2021