Diesel Debunked Brookings SD

An essential reason the clean diesels sweep through stringent emissions standards introduced a few years ago (and avoid producing that awful smell) is the introduction of highly refined Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) to our fueling stations. Compared to old-school diesel, ULSD contains 97 percent less sulfur. The cleaner fuel became available in the U.S. during 2006 and is now found at almost every service station that carries diesel.

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Diesel Debunked

Diesel Debunked By Alison Lakin, Associate Editor
Diesel Pump
Ever take a deep breath, only to discover that the shaky, old diesel in front of you is filling your trailing car with a pungent odor? While those ancient oil burners won’t disappear anytime soon (they seem to last forever), the new diesels entering the market are radically less offensive to the senses. In fact, they are called “ clean diesels ” to signify their rebirth as a viable alternative to gas-powered cars. Automakers are hoping 2009’s diesel engines will change our perceptions of this fuel forever.

2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

2009 BMW 335d

2009 BMW 335d

An essential reason the clean diesels sweep through stringent emissions standards introduced a few years ago (and avoid producing that awful smell) is the introduction of highly refined Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) to our fueling stations. Compared to old-school diesel, ULSD contains 97 percent less sulfur. The cleaner fuel became available in the U.S. during 2006 and is now found at almost every service station that carries diesel.

Jim McGill, Manager of Product and Technology Communications at Volkswagen, explains that Volkswagen “was reliant on ULSD to bring the clean diesels over to the U.S. and it is certainly a significant factor in emissions reduction.”

With the introduction of ULSD, U.S. market diesel cars can make use of particulate filters and urea injection systems to reduce emissions to even lower levels than their gasoline powered stablemates. The systems can decrease the amount of particulate matter from the exhaust system by 90 percent. Most also use an additive in the catalytic converter to change normally harmful and polluting gases into harmless nitrogen and water.

“Aftertreatments like new particulate filters helped reduce emissions significantly. They took the sulfur ppm count from 500 to 15,” continues McGill, “And a newer NOx storage system captured more emissions as opposed to letting them go out through the tailpipe.”

Diesel engines also happen to be extremely fuel-efficient – something that hits close to home as the nation tries to cut down on its dependence on oil. Of course, diesel is still derived from the sticky black liquid, but choose the Jetta TDI instead of the regular Jetta and you’ll get 29 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway compared to the standard 20 city and 29 highway. Using 30 percent less fuel equates to gas savings you can take straight to the bank and less reliance on oil overall.

Many clean diesel owners find that they get better gas mileage than the EPA estimates. Peter Vogel, who recently purchased a 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, says, “I knew that the EPA fuel estimates were fairly conservative, but until I purchased the Jetta I never realized how badly they lowballed it. I've been finding 50 MPG or better on the highway.”
 
A strong driving performance is yet one more beneficial characteristic of diesels. Their ...

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