For many people all across the country especially considering the recent debates on EVs versus gas vehicles, the word "diesel" brings with it mostly negative connotations of huge trucks burning massive amounts of fuel and churning huge plumes of smoke into the air. These characterizations are a bit unfair, but they are based on at least a small amount of truth. Even though they are excellent on fuel economy, cars and trucks powered by diesel motors are generally noisy and create large amounts of pollutants. Over the last few years, huge advances in technology have done a lot to quiet down the ride to the point where in some cases it is hard to tell that you are even in a diesel car or truck based on the sound alone. But their emissions are still below grade when compared to other gas powered vehicles.
Diesel Exhaust is Dirty
The exhaust smoke that comes out of a diesel motor are much dirtier than those of a car or truck in a similar category that is powered by gasoline. These fumes have been consistently shown to make people sick and to be unhealthy for the environment as well. There are steps that have been put into place to try to make diesel vehicles cleaner from the standpoint of their emissions. EPA standards now mandate a new type of diesel which is called ultra low sulfur diesel or ULSD. These regulations are already affecting the automotive industry in some pretty obvious ways, as automakers have to produce compliant vehicles that can run on the fuel, produce the performance drivers expect and still meet EPA regulations.
Clean diesel is much different than the previous standard was for diesel fuel in the U.S. The huge difference, of course, is in the sulfur content. Automakers have had to adjust the exhaust of their vehicles and develop new technologies of their own to keep up with these standards, and national auto insurance companies have offered discounts for staying in compliance. The result is a cleaner burning, quieter, less harmful fuel that still has the key advantages that buyers love about their diesel vehicles. The particulate filters that are in use in exhaust systems actually work to clean fumes coming out of diesel engines before they ever exit the exhaust, helping to further reduce environmental impact.
Clean Diesel and Biodiesel
Some people think that clean diesel and biodiesel are the same thing. After all, we keep hearing about both of them all the time in the media almost in an interchangeable fashion. But they are not the same. Clean diesel or ultra low sulfur diesel is still petroleum based, while biodiesel gets away from the petroleum entirely and counts on glycerin from vegetable oil. One thing that should be noted, however, is that biodiesel can be mixed with petroleum based diesel in any ratio to form a blend. It is not a product that requires an exclusive or separate vehicle fleet or anything of that nature.
ULSD in a Nutshell
Basically, ultra low sulfur diesel is cleaner diesel, fuel that is not nearly as damaging to the environment. Amazingly, in terms of its sulfur content, ULSD is refined so that its sulfur content is 97 percent lower than that of the old standard. This is important because that same sulfur is one of the main particles in the black soot that comes belching out of diesel motor exhausts when they are running and out on the road. So with this one change, the emissions created by cars and trucks that use this fuel are significantly reduced. Car insurance consumers who drive diesel vehicles can appreciate all the good that change does for the environment once they understand how clean diesel works.