There’s a lot of buzz about new fuels for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. While research and development for cleaner fuels is always a good idea, the reality is liquid fuels will power U.S. fleets for decades to come.
A major reason is that diesel engines still dominate the medium- and heavy-duty truck market, and trucking still dominates freight transport. 97% of Class 8 trucks rely on diesel fuel, and more than 70% of U.S. goods are shipped by truck.
Some fleet operators are looking to renewable diesel as a drop-in sustainability solution. Renewable diesel is a good fuel, but most of the nation’s supply goes to the west coast, and it will be a long time before it’s readily available elsewhere.
Companies like mine, Renewable Energy Group, have a simple message: Using biodiesel blends is a great way to dramatically reduce emissions in diesel-powered vehicles, and to do so in an easy-to-implement, cost-effective manner that protects fleet performance.
- Price: Biodiesel often costs less than petroleum diesel and renewable diesel.
- Performance: Biodiesel has a higher Cetane number and increased lubricity compared with ULSD. It also burns cleaner, and I’ve heard from fleets that are experiencing fewer issues with diesel particulate filters because of that. Plus, biodiesel blends are easy for fleets to incorporate because no major vehicle or fuel infrastructure changes are required.
- Emissions: Compared with petroleum diesel, a B20 blend has been proven to reduce particulate matter by more than 10%, carbon monoxide emissions by more than 10% and unburned hydrocarbons by more than 20% in heavy-duty highway engines.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s what Ruan Transportation’s director of procurement and fuel, Steve Larsen, has to say about why his company’s fleet uses biodiesel blends: “At this point, I’m going to be more surprised if I hear somebody is running vehicles that don’t have biodiesel, especially Class 8 trucks. For Ruan, it simply comes down to emissions reductions, strong performance and cost savings.”