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  • The National Biodiesel Board

In changing diesel landscape, biobased diesel offers smart solutions for road ahead

There is little doubt that Earth’s climate is changing. Science points to these changes being primarily driven by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions. Time is of the essence as OEMs and fleets across the country take a fresh look at the use of low-carbon biodiesel and renewable diesel to help reduce emissions in their new and legacy diesel vehicles and equipment and help to slow the progression of climate change.

The heating effect associated with emissions is cumulative, making carbon reductions today significantly more valuable than carbon reductions in the future, ultimately driving conversations about integrated energy management.

“Achieving zero emissions from our products is becoming a higher priority for our customers, our communities, and our company,” said Wayne Eckerle, vice president of corporate research and technology for Cummins while speaking at the 2021 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo in January. “Our mission of ‘powering a more prosperous world’ includes meeting our obligation to use fewer of its resources and will require a mix of energy conversion technologies using diverse carbon-neutral and renewable energy sources.”

According to an analysis by the California Air Resources Board, biodiesel produced in the U.S. has the lowest carbon intensity of any liquid fuel, while also offering substantial carbon reductions compared to coal-powered electricity and power generated from natural gas.

Achieving near-zero emissions requirements will likely include electrification for some market segments in the future. However, three out of four trucks on the road today are powered by diesel powertrains, and 97 percent of the large over-the-road Class 8 trucks are diesels.

“As we envision a greater national focus on attacking climate change in the coming year, advanced diesel engines and biodiesel and renewable diesel must be included as key strategies,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. “They are available, affordable, proven, and deliver substantial near-term reductions in greenhouse gas and other emissions across wide sectors of the economy, like trucking that rely substantially on diesel engines today and will well into the future.”

Renewable diesel and biodiesel blends are readily available, drop-in fuels that can be used in any diesel engine now. With renewable diesel and biodiesel, fleets can instantly lower their carbon footprint, without investing in costly new vehicles or waiting years for the build-out of new electric charging infrastructure.

Biodiesel and renewable diesel offer an immediate return on investment when considering the time value of carbon equation. And, they help both OEMs and fleets meet increasingly challenging emissions requirements and corporate sustainability goals.

Fleets and consumers have an impressive list of new diesel models to look forward to in model year 2021. General Motors adds to its strong lineup of diesel trucks and vans with the introduction of five new large diesel model SUVs, including the 2021 Chevy Tahoe, Chevy Suburban, GMC Yukon, GMC Yukon XL, and the Cadillac Escalade. All are equipped with GM’s 3.0L Duramax diesel engine and continue the company’s tradition of support for the use of B20, a blend of 20 percent biodiesel with ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel.

Likewise, Fiat Chrysler augments its fleet of B20-approved Ram diesel pickup trucks powered by Cummins diesel engines with two all-new diesel Jeep SUV models in 2021, including the 2021 Jeep Gladiator and the iconic Jeep Wrangler, both equipped with a 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 engine.

And Ford Motor Co. continues its strong tradition of offering America’s best-selling pickup trucks for 44 straight years—from the light duty Ford F-150 diesel pickup to the hardworking Ford Super Duty F-250 through F-750 models, all supporting the use of B20 biodiesel blends.

The vast majority of automakers support B20 or higher biodiesel blends, not only providing the opportunity for their customers to reduce their own carbon emissions, but also reducing the Scope 3 emissions generated within their supply chain, showing investors their commitment to climate change.

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