Automobiles and trucks play big roles in the contribution of chemicals that harm our quality of air. Chemicals such as sulfur dioxide, hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen oxide are released from the vehicles and can alter the climate, causing birth defects, respiratory illnesses and even cancer. There are numerous industries working to make improvements in the quality of air by creating new technologies which will help reduce these chemical emissions. Clean fuel vehicles utilize alternative fuels along with petroleum fuels meeting low levels of vehicle emission. Cleaner fuels include ethanol, compressed natural gas, methanol, electricity, and liquefied petroleum gas.
Renewable fuels are fuels such as electricity that comes from biomass sources of energy, instead of from fossil fuels, and includes fuels in the form of gas and liquids. Using more renewable fuels helps reduce dependence on crude oil from foreign sources, helps the United States develop their own sources of energy, and helps reduce emissions of chemicals that cause negative changes in the climate. Diesel and gasoline have been used as the predominant fuels for vehicles in the U.S. but the many concerns of energy security and greenhouse gas emissions has spawned interest in finding other energy sources for vehicles and other motorized equipment.
These fuels offer a great alternative to importing petroleum because not only does it burn cleaner, it can be made in the United States helping us be less dependent on other countries for these sources of fuel. The words “renewable fuels” and “alternative fuels” are often used interchangeably but they both carry specific regulation and statute meanings. The definitions of these terms also differ depending on certain laws. What exactly are alternative and renewable fuels?
- Alternative fuels describes alternatives to the traditional fuels, diesel and gasoline, used by trucks, automobiles, and other motorized vehicles.
- Renewable fuels are derived from renewable sources, non-petroleum based, such as municipal solid waste, crops, and animal waste.
- The Energy Policy Act of 2005 was designed as a way to encourage blending renewable fuels into vehicle fuel.
Natural gas is found below the ocean floors and surface of the earth. It is formed by decaying organic matter. The reserves are from very large quantities of animal and plant remains which have accumulated between sediment on ocean and lake bottoms over great lengths of time. The organic materials are converted to natural gas, coal and petroleum, from the pressure of sediment and the heat of the earth’s core. Natural gas can be found with no oil but every oil deposit contains natural gas.
Natural gas fuels have many benefits and the benefits are being discovered by trucking fleets throughout the country. Price stability and fuels savings motivate some while supporting the goal to reduce imported oil dependence motivates others. Either way, everyone enjoys the sustainability and environmental benefits of the cleaner American resource. Trucks using natural gas are now operating in various places such as bulk hauling, local deliveries and pickups, and moving goods. Trucks using natural fuels haul heavy loads and are made available from various leading manufacturers.
- In 2000, Argonne National laboratory estimated that trucks with sleeper cabs idling overnight used 800 million gallons of diesel per year.
- Depending on where the truck is traveling and the weight of the load it carries, a truck can burn between ten and twenty gallons of diesel fuel each hour.
- 12.8% of fuel in the United States is purchased by the trucking industry.
Aside from more trucks using natural gas for fuel, parking spaces are being equipped with electric capabilities. This allows for the driver to park the truck and provide air conditioning, heating, and power to appliances without having to idle the truck’s engine. With single-system electrification, a hose is connected from a HVAC system and is then connected to the window in the truck providing ventilation, air conditioning, and heating. Shorepower or the dual-system electrification, plugs into a truck stops electrical outlets. The truck must have an inverter that will convert hardware, electrical equipment, and 120-volt power to plug into the outlets.
- According to the United States Department of Transportation, it is estimated that about five thousand U.S. truck stops have this option available.
- These single and dual systems are maintained and owned by companies that usually charge a fee on an hourly basis to use.
- There are impacts indirectly associated with these systems but it can help reduce emissions from diesel fuel and save on the fuel costs.