Not to digress too much, but hanging out by the railroad tracks as a kid (off to the side and at a safe viewing distance, to be sure), you learn pretty quickly some of the characteristics and practices of the industry, such as control-signal-aspect indication (what each signal display color and/or position means – which could come in quite handy as far as determining when the next train is likely to show up). Coupled with this, there is the familiarization regarding the sights, sounds and smells the big diesel locomotives produced and by smells I mean the smell of diesel exhaust, part and parcel of railway diesel-engine operation.
Meanwhile, in the automotive realm? Well, where the diesel engine is concerned, it is little different or, it was, anyway.
As it relates, back on June 22, 2013 in “Diesel: It isn’t just for trucks, buses and locomotives anymore,” quoted was Diesel Technology Forum Executive Director Allen R. Schaeffer who in “Are hybrids the best ‘green’ bet for motorists? No: New diesels go further on a tank, are greener,” stressed, “Gone are the clatter and smoke, and wheezy slow performance. They’ve been replaced with clean, quiet and fun to drive cars.”
I wouldn’t know about the fun-to-drive part. But, diesels being smoke-less?! Let’s just say I have my doubts. They do pollute; I know that. As for how much pollution and what pollutants are emitted from such, that is the question. Furthermore, the last sentence in the paragraph above, that is, except for the “quiet and fun to drive” part, appears to be somewhat at odds with the information presented two paragraphs below.
So, check it out.
The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) press release: “New ICCT study shows real-world exhaust emissions from modern diesel cars seven times higher than EU, US regulatory limits,” of Oct. 11, 2014 is quite telling.
The ICCT declared in no uncertain terms, “On-road nitrogen oxides emission levels of modern diesel cars are on average about seven times higher than the limit set by the Euro 6 emission standard, which went into effect September 2014. This is the key finding from a new report published today in Berlin by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), an independent research organization.”
Wait, there is more.
“The study, which is the most comprehensive report on the real-world behavior of the latest generation of diesel cars published to date, found remarkable differences among individual vehicle models, indicating that technologies for real-world clean diesels already exist but are not being employed consistently by different vehicle manufacturers,” the ICCT went on to state. “The findings come at a time when the European Commission is preparing to propose an improved car emissions testing procedure, including on-road measurement, that could take effect in 2017.”
According to the research organization, in the EU, around half of new cars, are diesel-powered.
Added the ICCT: “The European Commission is currently preparing to require on-road testing as part of the passenger car type-approval process in the EU. According to these plans, vehicle manufacturers from 2017 would have to test new vehicles not only under laboratory conditions but also on the road, using PEMS [Portable Emissions Measurement Systems] equipment. Technical experts from the EU member states will meet in Brussels on October 15 to discuss further steps and whether the new regulation can be approved at the end of 2014, as originally planned.”
It is my belief in speaking to Europe’s relatively high passenger diesel car numbers, the notion that the diesel cars in question emit lower levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and for that reason, in an effort to try to limit CO2 and other greenhouse gases from motor vehicles, there was a concerted effort advanced to promote increased reliance on diesel as applied to automotive engine propulsion.
Now, as to whether or not clean diesels are, in fact, “clean,” on this I believe the jury is still out.
Image above: Pearson Scott Foresman