Clean technology is a broad-based term that for the trucking industry means supporting the environment in a sustainable way by minimizing pollution and reducing gas emissions. Many trucking companies have jumped on the bandwagon of reducing our footprint on the earth by switching over to biofuel and biodiesel.
Biofuels, a clean-burning alternative energy, derive from biological carbon fixation. Without getting too technical, the production of biofuels comes from solid biomass, biogases, liquid fuels, and biomass conversion.
The most popular biofuels are bioethanol and biodiesel. Bioethanol is fermented alcohol that originates from the carbohydrates produced in sugar and starch crops. Bioethanol fuels vehicles in its purest form; however, most use it as an additive for petroleum-based gasoline to increase octane and improve emissions.
- Biofuel is a clean-burning alternative energy source.
- Biofuel is derived from solid biomass, liquid fuels, and biomass conversion.
- Bioethanol is made from the carbohydrates of sugar and starch crops, such as sugarcane and corn.
Biodiesel, a type of biofuel, heralds as one of the hot topics on the subject of alternative energy. As prices continue to climb at the gas pumps, all heads turn in support of this alternative fuel. Scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, and government officials have invested a lot of time and money into research. Many experts have wondered about the origins of biodiesel; however, its source continues to remain a mystery.
Fortunately, its manufacturers have defined biodiesel to help increase conversion rates. According to the National Biodiesel Board, this clean-burning alternative fuel has a composition made from renewable resources. Biodiesel doesn’t include petroleum; but can be blended to make petroleum diesel.
The good news is trucking companies can switch over to biodiesel without the expense of modifying their diesel engines. Biodiesel contains no sulfur or aromatics. In addition, biodiesel contains no toxic substances, making it biodegradable and safe to burn.
- Biodiesel is a type of biofuel that has garnered attention from scientists and entrepreneurs.
- Biodiesel does not contain petroleum; however, it can be blended with petroleum.
- Biodiesel is non-toxic, biodegradable, and contains no sulfur or aromatic substances.
Biodiesel can be produced from raw vegetable oil, animal fats, tallow and waste cooking oil. To convert these oils is a process called transesterification. The refineries create two different chemicals after completing the transesterification process, including diesel fuel and glycerin. To pass industrial specifications, the biodiesel produced must contain ASTM D6751 to ensure proper performance. In addition, the biodiesel created from the transesterification process must pass the “biodegradable, nontoxic, and sulfur-less and aromatic-free,” standard.
- Biodiesel derives from raw vegetable oil by a process known as transesterification.
- The transesterification process creates two different chemicals, including glycerin and diesel fuel.
- Biodiesel must contain ASTM D6751 to pass industrial standards.
Biodiesel comes in its purest form or as a petroleum blend. The latter consists of a 20 percent biodiesel to 80 percent petroleum diesel blend, which has very little impact on the environment. Fleet operations may experience a slight increase in cost for a conversion to petroleum biodiesel blends; however, it will mitigate the irreversible damages caused by Global Warming. Biodiesel reduces CO2 emissions by 78 percent, a vast difference when comparing it to petroleum diesel. Scientists concluded that biodiesel emissions do less harm on the environment than petroleum diesel fuel.
Many companies not only support biodiesel production, but have made it available in certain regions across the country. Unfortunately, the biodiesel industry hasn’t caught up with the growing demand in the fast-evolving economy. There is greater need for more fuel stations to carry biodiesel and/or petroleum diesel blends; and more are gradually appearing as biodiesel increases its reputation as a viable source for energy.
- Biodiesel continues to make a gradual impact.
- Fuel stations have started to include it as an alternative at the pumps.
- Unfortunately, only a limited amount of fuel stations are having it delivered at this time.
The trucking industry needs to not only invest more money in alternative forms of fuel but they need to account for idle time at rest stops. Long-haul truckers rest for ten out of every twenty-four hours. This wastes a lot of energy, especially during the winter months when drivers idle their trucks to keep the engine, fuel, and cabin warm. Additionally, many drivers idle their trucks to run TV sets and microwaves to heat their food in order to avoid draining the vehicle’s battery. Long-haul truckers’ can use three to four thousand dollars annually on fuel when they idle their vehicle in the parking lot.
Trucking companies with large fleets cannot afford to continue this trend.
Other energy alternatives incorporate electric auxiliary power units (APUs) and battery systems to reduce the amount of emissions while a truck cab or sleeper idles on the side of the road. Clean technology aims to reduce the overall cost for trucking companies while promoting environmentally friendly practices.
Many have taken advantage of electric auxiliary power units (APUs). Electric APUs allows drivers to shut down the vehicle while still maintaining heating, cooling and electrical power to the cabin and appliances. Other APU advancements have led to climate control and electricity features for truck cabs and sleepers that will produce zero emissions.
Follow these links to learn more about clean technologies for the trucking industry:
- Biofuel FAQs
- Bio-Diesel Fuel
- What is Cleantech?
- What is Biodiesel? (PDF)
- Bio-Diesel Emissions Factsheet (PDF)
- Biodiesel/Biofuels Research
- Auxiliary Power Units: Reducing Carbon Emissions by Eliminating Idling in Heavy-Duty Trucks (PDF)
- Truck Idling: Implications and Solutions (PDF)
- All About Biodiesel
- The National Biodiesel Board
- Baltimore Biodiesel Cooperative
- The European Biodiesel Board
- Biodiesel: Fueling the Future
- Biodiesel: Journey to Forever
- The Ecology Center: Biodiesel F.A.Q.