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DieselNet: Engines, Fuels, Energy & Clean Transportation Technology

Engines & clean transportation technology—since 1997

The Log

28 November 2023: Summary of the SAE Energy & Propulsion Conference—previously called the Powertrains, Fuels & Lubricants Conference—that was held in Greenville, South Carolina on November 7-9, 2023 [more ...]

14 November 2023: Updated Technology Guide paper Engine Technology Evolution: Heavy-Duty Diesels—added discussion of historical trends in fuel economy of heavy-duty trucks.

13 November 2023: A new study from the Cornell University shows that GHG emissions from burning liquefied natural gas (LNG) are at least equal or much higher than those from coal, depending on the LNG transportation scenario [more ...]

10 November 2023: Oil, gas, and coal extraction is predicted to grow dramatically in the coming years, according to the New York Times, based on the 2023 edition of the UN-backed Production Gap Report and other sources. The United States would drill for more oil and gas in 2030 than at any point in its history. Brazil, India, and Canada are all on track to boost fossil fuel output by 2030, while Saudi Arabia plans to increase oil production by up to 47% by 2050. These projections are in a stark contrast to the World Energy Outlook released last month by the IEA, which predicts that all fossil fuels would peak before 2030. The wide range of fossil fuel extraction forecasts is truly remarkable, and the above reports feel like two opposing outliers.

4 November 2023: Earlier this week, the California Air Resources Board held a two-day workshop to provide an update on the development of Tier 5 emission standards for new off-road diesel engines [more ...]

2 November 2023: The US EPA has finalized revisions to its regulations that preempt state and local emission regulation of locomotives and engines used in locomotives. The changed policy will allow California to enforce its In-Use Locomotive Regulation adopted in April [more ...]

1 November 2023: Emission standards: Added summary of the nonroad low load cycle (nonroad LLC), developed by the California Air Resources Board for use in Tier 5 emission standards for nonroad engines.

31 October 2023: United Auto Workers (UAW) reached a tentative deal with GM yesterday, ending the union’s six weeks of coordinated strikes against the Detroit Three automakers. Among several victories secured by the union, pay for veteran workers at GM will rise by 33% over the 4.5 years of the new contract, which will reportedly cost GM $7 billion over 4.5 years in higher labor costs. “We wholeheartedly believe our strike squeezed every last dime out of General Motors,” UAW President Shawn Fain said. In the wake of the strike, both GM and Ford have also scaled back their EV production plans, citing less-than-expected market demand and the need to rework their EV technology to reduce costs.

25 October 2023: A newly released Climate Action Progress Report 2023 highlights the EU’s progress in achieving is climate goals. The EU’s GHG emissions decreased by 3% in 2022. Emissions from factories and power plants decreased largely due to impact of the energy crisis in Europe. Other sectors where emissions decreased include buildings and small industry. Emissions from transport, on the other hand, increased by 2%. Overall, the EU is currently not on track to reach its 2030 emissions objective, states the report. Meanwhile, Shell will cut at least 15% of the workforce at its low-carbon solutions division and scale back its hydrogen business, according to an exclusive report by Reuters. The move reflects the growing disillusion among energy companies with the profitability of low-carbon energy technologies.

24 October 2023: Carbon capture and storage (CCS) has been envisioned as an important technology to decarbonize the shipping industry. However, CCS requires high energy input and has a significant negative impact on the efficiency and the economics of the associated process. In the marine application, a system to remove 50% of the emitted CO2 using today’s CCS technology would increase ship’s fuel consumption by about 30% [more ...]

17 October 2023: European Council agrees on the proposed new CO2 emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles [more ...]

11 October 2023: ExxonMobil agreed to buy Pioneer Natural Resources in an all-stock deal valued at $59.5 billion—Exxon’s largest acquisition since its merger with Mobil in 1999 [more ...]

9 October 2023: Approximately 4,000 UAW workers at Mack Trucks plants in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Maryland went on strike, after overwhelmingly rejecting a proposed five-year contract deal. The Mack workers join the about 25,000 UAW members that have been on strike at selected General Motors, Ford Motor, and Stellantis plants since September 15.

5 October 2023: Fleet Research, Energy Data, and Insights (FleetREDI)—a new web-based tool from the US DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)—provides access to a wealth of commercial vehicle data in the United States. FleetREDI allows users to explore operational data coverage (geographic, vehicle type, use case), filter according to weight class and use case, gain high level insights on vehicle operational characteristics, examine duty cycle characteristics for a given vehicle selection, and download graphs and data of summary statistics.

3 October 2023: A report released last month by The Royal Society, titled Large-scale electricity storage, analyzes the needs for energy storage to enable a large increase in electricity generation from wind and solar in the UK. No matter how much generating capacity is installed, there will be times when wind and solar cannot meet all demand, and large-scale of very-long duration storage will be needed. The scale—on the order of tens of TWh—is over 1,000 times that currently provided by pumped hydro in the UK, and far more than could conceivably be provided by conventional batteries, concludes the report. It is suggested that the leading candidate technology is storage of hydrogen in solution-mined salt caverns. The fall-back option, which would be significantly more expensive, is ammonia.

3 October 2023: The Diesel Technology Forum is no more—it has rebranded as the Engine Technology Forum. The group’s members include AGCO, Caterpillar, Chevron’s Renewable Energy Group, Clean Fuels Alliance America, Cummins, FPT Powertrain Technologies, General Motors, Innospec, Isuzu, John Deere, Johnson Matthey, Kubota Engine America, mtu-a Rolls-Royce solution, Neste, Stanadyne, Stellantis, Tenneco, Umicore, Volvo, Western States Petroleum Association, and Yanmar.

29 September 2023: Summary of the SAE COMVEC™ (Commercial Vehicles) meeting held on September 19-21, 2023, in Schaumburg, Illinois, USA [more ...]

26 September 2023: Updated Technology Guide paper on Methane Oxidation Catalysts, with expanded discussion of Pd-based catalysts and two new figures.

25 September 2023: The European Council adopted its position on the proposed Euro 7 regulation that weakens the proposal in several respects and delays the implementation of Euro 7 emission standards [more ...]

20 September 2023: Britain will push back a ban on new petrol and diesel cars and vans to 2035 from 2030, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said, adding that the cars would still be available to buy on the secondhand market thereafter.

19 September 2023: Emission standards: Updated summary of international standards and specifications for petroleum marine fuels.

15 September 2023: The United Auto Workers (UAW) union launched simultaneous strikes at three factories owned by the ‘Big Three’ automakers: the Ford plant in Michigan that makes Bronco SUVs, a General Motors plant in Missouri that assembles Chevrolet Colorado pickups, and a Stellantis plant in Ohio that builds Jeep Wrangler SUVs. The union demands a bigger share of profits generated by combustion engine vehicles and stronger job security as automakers shift to electric vehicles. Specifically, the union seeks a 46% pay rise, 32-hour work weeks, and restoration of traditional pensions.

14 September 2023: The European Parliament adopted its position on revisions to the Ambient Air Quality Directives. The text adopted by the Parliament strengthens the air quality standards beyond the Commission’s proposal. It includes two sets of limit and target values: intermediate limit values effective from 2030, based on the Commission’s proposal, and more stringent, final limit values effective from 2035 [more ...]

13 September 2023: The extension of oil output cuts by Saudi Arabia and Russia through the year-end will lock in a substantial oil market deficit through the fourth quarter of 2023, said the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its Oil Market Report published today. The decision by the Saudi-Russian alliance triggered a price spike in North Sea Dated above $90 per barrel to a 10-month high. Oil markets were already tightening in August, when global inventories plunged by a sharp 76.3 million barrels, or 2.46 million b/d. According to OPEC estimates seen by Bloomberg, global oil markets may face a supply shortfall of more than 3 million b/d in the next quarter.

11 September 2023: The #P2X Conference will be held in mid-November in Frankfurt, Germany. The program covers topics ranging from electrolysis and other production processes for hydrogen to the synthesis of eFuels for heavy-duty transport, shipping, and aviation. eFuels are considered by many an indispensable component of the future transportation landscape—it’s time to make arrangements to attend the Conference [more ...]

7 September 2023: Electric vehicles make up 6.7% of US light-duty vehicle sales, plug-in hybrids 1.7%, and conventional hybrids 7.2%, according to the EIA. Between 2021 and Q2 2023, manufacturers reduced the number of non-hybrid ICE vehicle models from 318 to 297, and they increased the number of battery-electric models from 34 to 55. Most of the shift toward battery-electric models is in the luxury segment—battery-electric vehicles now account for 20% of all available luxury models, compared with 7% of non-luxury models.

Engines & Emissions

The internal combustion engine (ICE) has been a key prime mover that largely replaced earlier prime movers of lesser efficiency—human labor, animal work, the water wheel, the windmill, and the steam engine—thus enabling modern industrial civilization. The most efficient type of ICE, the diesel engine, has been widely used in heavy trucks, construction and agricultural machinery, rail locomotives, ships, and emergency power generation. Its gasoline counterpart has been common in passenger cars. Another related power plant, the gas turbine, has been powering commercial aviation.

For many years, engine developers have been striving to make engines cleaner. Following the three-way catalyst for gasoline engines, clean diesel technologies that enabled near-zero emissions of PM and NOx were developed and introduced in many regions of the world. The focus in technology development has then shifted to climate change and energy efficiency. The benefit of low CO2 emissions, traditionally associated with the diesel engine, is no longer sufficient to meet GHG and fuel economy regulations. New technologies are being developed—such as new combustion techniques, powertrain electrification, and waste heat recovery—that further increase the efficiency not only of the engine itself, but of the entire vehicle. Critically, as GHG emissions occur at all stages of vehicle life, from manufacture through disposal, low-carbon policies must consider life cycle effects of fuels and vehicles.

A major challenge ahead is the approaching end of the Oil Age—not only due to climate policies, but for economic reasons stemming from the depletion of easily recoverable oil resources. As fossil fuels are replaced by alternatives of lesser energetic quality, the future of mobility remains largely unknown. While the world aims to embrace more sustainable mobility, most alternative powertrain technologies depend on quantities of rare and nonrenewable natural resources, and therefore are not truly sustainable. Another often suggested approach—that of fueling the ICE by low-carbon e-fuels—suffers from low efficiency and would require substantial amounts of energy, which seems problematic in an economy that no longer has access to cheap and abundant fossil energy. All this suggests that future mobility will be based on a mix of powertrain technologies, where combustion engines continue to play an important role.

DieselNet—initially an information service on diesel engines and emissions—evolved over the decades to become the central internet resource for technical and business information related to all types of internal combustion engines, their fuels, emissions, and the technologies required by the clean and efficient engines of the future.