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DieselNet: Engines, Fuels, Energy & Clean Transportation Technology

Engines & clean transportation technology—since 1997

The Log

27 February 2024: Apple is cancelling a decade-long effort to build an electric car, reports Bloomberg. The company is winding down its multibillion-dollar Project Titan—the development of a fully autonomous electric vehicle with a limousine-like interior and voice-guided navigation.

19 February 2024: In an election-year concession to labor unions and auto executives, the US EPA will relax their proposed GHG emission standards for MY 2027-2032 light-duty vehicles, according to the New York Times and to Reuters. Under the initial proposal, the EPA aimed to reach an EV share of new vehicle sales of 60% by 2030, and 64-67% by 2032. Now, a sharp increase in EV sales would be delayed until after 2030, but no further details have been provided. The final rule is expected as soon as next month.

16 February 2024: Engine Technology Forum—now on DieselNet—is an industry group dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of the benefits of internal combustion engines, fuels, and technologies. It was formerly known as the Diesel Technology Forum.

12 February 2024: US oil and gas company Diamondback Energy agreed to buy privately held rival Endeavor Energy in $26 billion cash-and-stock deal, in another sign of a rapid consolidation in the US shale oil sector [more ...]

6 February 2024: Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations at Mauna Loa, Hawaii reached 422.80 ppm—an increase of 3.32 ppm from January 2023, which looks like a record high annual growth rate. Needless to say, methane and nitrous oxide concentrations have both reached record high levels as well.

31 January 2024: Volvo Trucks is introducing a new 17-liter diesel engine for its FH16 truck. With up to 780 hp and 3,800 Nm of torque, the new D17 is the strongest engine in the industry [more ...]

24 January 2024: The International Energy Agency (IEA) released its Electricity 2024 report, the latest edition of the IEA’s annual analysis of electricity market developments and policies. The report finds that while global growth in electricity demand eased slightly to 2.2% in 2023 due to falling electricity consumption in advanced economies, it is projected to accelerate to an average of 3.4% from 2024 through 2026. About 85% of the increase in the world’s electricity demand through 2026 is expected to come from outside advanced economies—most notably China, India and countries in Southeast Asia. Electricity demand in the European Union’s industrial sector fell by an estimated 6% in 2023 after a similar decline in 2022. EU electricity demand growth is forecast to rise by an average 2.3% in 2024-26, driven by electric vehicles, heat pumps, and data centers. Electricity prices for energy-intensive industries in the EU in 2023 were almost double those in the United States and China.

23 January 2024: Joe Kaeser, the chairman of Siemens Energy, a leading wind turbine maker, has warned energy bills will have to keep rising to pay for the green transition as he attacked “fairytale” thinking about net zero. Higher energy bills are inevitable as turbine makers grapple with huge losses, forcing them to pass on costs to their customers. Speaking at the WEF in Davos, Mr Kaeser also seemed exasperated about the lack of direction in energy policy. “There’s just now, every week, every month, another debate about something,” he said. “Do you bring nuclear back, or that or this? And this is what causes friction. Uncertainty is great, but I have enough uncertainty already.”

19 January 2024: The EU Council and Parliament reached a provisional political agreement on CO2 emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles, with a target of 90% emission reduction from new trucks and coaches by 2040 [more ...]

13 January 2024: The US Justice Department, US EPA, and California authorities released the details of a proposed settlement with Cummins for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act and California law. Under the settlement, Cummins must replace the engine control software in hundreds of thousands of RAM 2500 and RAM 3500 pickup trucks equipped with the company’s 6.7 L diesel engines, extend the warranty period for certain parts in the affected vehicles, and fund projects to mitigate excess NOx emitted from the vehicles. Details of the alleged defeat devices and their effects on emissions were not explained in the consent decrees and remain unclear [more ...]

11 January 2024: Global oil consumption hit another record in 2023, reaching 101.1 million barrels per day (b/d), slightly exceeding the 2019 peak of 101.0 million b/d—according to the Short-Term Energy Outlook by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). The EIA predicts oil consumption (“crude oil and other liquids,” which include natural gas plant liquids) will further increase to 102.5 million b/d in 2024 and 103.7 million b/d in 2025.

9 January 2024: US EPA announced nearly $1 billion in awards for clean school buses. The funding will help school districts in 37 states to purchase over 2,700 buses, 95% of which will be battery electric vehicles [more ...]

22 December 2023: Cummins has reached an agreement with the United States to pay a $1.675 billion penalty to settle claims that it violated the Clean Air Act by installing emission “defeat devices” on hundreds of thousands of engines [more ...]

20 December 2023: SAE International announced the availability of a new book, Diesel Emissions and Their Control, Second Edition. The book is closely based on a selection of DieselNet Technology Guide papers dealing with diesel engine and emission technology. The first edition, published in 2006, played an important role in the development of the DieselNet website—the initial version of the Technology Guide was based, with SAE’s kind permission, on the first edition manuscript. We are thankful to the SAE for this cooperation and we hope the second edition will provide a useful resource for the diesel engine community.

19 December 2023: Updated Technology Guide paper on Natural Gas—Added a new section on lifecycle GHG emission effects of natural gas.

18 December 2023: Global coal demand will rise by 1.4% in 2023, setting a new record of 8.5 billion tonnes, according to the Coal 2023 report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). While coal consumption declined sharply in most advanced economies, demand remains very strong in emerging and developing economies—coal consumption increased by 8% in India and by 5% in China in 2023 due to rising demand for electricity and weak hydropower output. However, the IEA expects that global coal demand will decline by 2026.

13 December 2023: Achates Power revealed test results of their 10.6 L opposed-piston (OP) engine, including results from the recently completed in-use tests as part of the Walmart truck fleet in California, which show a significant fuel economy advantage over conventional reference engines [more ...]

9 December 2023: A new Technology Guide paper, titled Mixture Formation in Hydrogen Engines, covers the properties of hydrogen as a fuel, hydrogen injection strategies with a focus on high pressure direct injection, and hydrogen injector design.

7 December 2023: Nuclear power’s share of global electricity generation fell 4% year-on-year in 2022, reaching its lowest level since the 1980s, according to the 2023 edition of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report. In 2022, nuclear energy generated 2,546 TWh of electricity worldwide, 9.2% of total output, with the USA accounting for the largest share, followed by China. There were 407 reactors in operation in 32 countries in the first half of 2023, down four from the previous year and 31 fewer than a decade ago. Future prospects for the sector are not very bright—building nuclear powerplants is nearly four times more expensive compared to wind and solar power, and nuclear power remains an expensive and dangerous option financially, environmentally, and militarily.

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.

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.