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December 01, 2015   |   Diesel Technology Forum

Policy Insider

Clean Diesel Feeding the World

Clean diesel engines and fuel will be a necessary technology to feed an additional 1 billion people while meeting climate commitments established by 2025.

From now until 2025 – the deadline for the U.S. to reach its first climate commitment goal included in its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution, or INDC – the world will see an additional 1 billion people. Feeding an extra 1 billion people worldwide will certainly pose many challenges. Thankfully, a new generation of a proven technology will be critical to feed the world and meet climate change goals.

Across the U.S., diesel engines power three out of every four pieces of agricultural equipment. The energy density and portability of the fuel and the inherent efficiency of the diesel engine to translate fuel into work explain the predominance of diesel on farms across the country.

Thanks to decades of innovation in diesel technology, a new generation of diesel is hard at work in the agricultural sector across the country. Cleaner low-sulfur fuel allows for modern fuel-sipping engines along with state-of-the art emission control technologies that reduce emissions to near zero levels. The interaction of all of these clean diesel systems allow manufacturers of engines and agricultural equipment to meet the strictest emissions standards for equipment, the “Tier 4” standards.

It’s not just cleaner air and advanced engines that are saving fuel and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Even more advanced technologies that are boosting productivity are also contributing to meeting our climate challenge. Next generation telematics and global positioning capabilities are able to make the most of these expensive assets. Seeds can be planted and crops harvested in less time thanks to these productivity enhancing features that save fuel for farmers and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the benefit of everyone.

Here, the U.S is a leader in developing and deploying these technologies that are necessary to put food on the table across the country and even deliver crops and produce to markets overseas. America’s leadership extends beyond next generation engines and equipment but to fuel as well. The necessary first step in the progress to clean diesel depends on access to clean fuels. Thanks to newfound energy reserves, the U.S. is sending record quantities of clean diesel fuel abroad. In 2014, U.S. refiners sent over 300 million barrels of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel abroad making diesel the number one refined petroleum export.

Greater access to clean fuel abroad offers an opportunity for other nations to introduce clean diesel engines and advanced equipment. In fact, the U.S. is also a leader in supplying agricultural equipment abroad. In 2014, U.S. manufacturers sent over $8 billion worth of equipment abroad. Diesel technology broadly is an export powerhouse for the U.S. economy earning almost $50 billion in export revenue. Growing access to clean diesel fuel in many developing economies further opens additional markets for clean diesel equipment to help feed the world and contribute to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet the climate challenge.

One of the benefits of the diesel platform is its capability to demonstrate continued improvement. In fact, the diesel engine of the future may not even operate on conventional petroleum based fuel. Supplies of advanced bio-based diesel fuel are expanding in the U.S. and in markets overseas. Many bio-based diesel fuels are derived from waste agricultural feedstocks. Here in the U.S., waste soy and animal fats comprise the larger feedstocks for the fuel that promises a reduction in carbon emissions by about 50 percent. Certain bio-based diesel fuels demonstrate near-zero carbon intensity while providing significant clean air benefits.

Clean diesel engines and fuel will be a necessary technology to feed an additional 1 billion people while meeting climate commitments established by 2025.


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Ezra Finkin
Director, Policy

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