Alternative Diesel Fuels

Peter Ahlvik

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Abstract: Development of alternative diesel fuels, once promoted by the desire to reduce exhaust emissions, is now increasingly driven by climate change issues and energy security. The most important alternative fuel options include synthetic fuels, biodiesel, dimethyl ether, alcohols, methane, and hydrogen. The choice of future fuel/powertrain combinations, ideally based on well-to-wheel energy efficiency and emissions analysis, is limited by such factors as fuel resources and distribution system.

Environmental Driving Forces

It is generally considered today that air pollution is one of the main driving forces for alternative fuels. Presumably, this will continue to be of importance for a long time. However, it is likely that the focus could shift significantly in the future. For establishing long term alternative fuel policies, future driving forces are of greater importance than the current focus.

It is generally believed that future environmental priorities will gradually shift from exhaust emissions to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy security. This is illustrated in Figure 1 [909]. The importance of exhaust emissions relative to the combined importance of GHG emissions and energy supply may be significantly lower in 2025 than it is today. This belief has gained acceptance in the last few years among other stakeholders and is often cited by many researchers. In recent publications by authors from the same company (Volkswagen) as the previous reference, it has been proposed that the increased importance of energy supply might even come earlier than indicated in Figure 1 [1396].

Figure 1. Environmental Driving Forces