Is Diesel Still Green? Delving into Diesel Emissions, Refining, and Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel

Exploring the changes in diesel's green credentials, from emissions to refining processes, and the impact of ultra-low sulfur diesel.

Is Diesel Still Green? Delving into Diesel Emissions, Refining, and Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel
Photo by NOAA / Unsplash

Now they say it's worse than petrol, and prices are now higher for diesel.

So what changed, or what did we suddenly learn about diesel that we didn't know before?

Bonus question, considering they're both made from crude oil, what's the difference in how they're refined?

The Shift in Perception

Our definition of 'green' changed.

It used to be purely about fuel consumption, how many gallons do you burn.

And Diesel engines are inherently more efficient that gasoline engines - they burned less gas, and that was greener.

However, because of diesel engines' different combustion behavior, you also get different emissions, specifically nitrous oxides and soot.

These emissions have been linked to a variety of health problems.

Environmental Impact

Diesel also produces higher levels of nitrogen oxide, which contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone and smog.

Furthermore, diesel engines also emit more particulate matter, which consists of tiny particles that can penetrate deep into the lungs and cause respiratory problems.

Unlike gasoline, diesel requires less refining, making it cheaper to produce.

However, this also means diesel contains more pollutants and heavier hydrocarbons, which are more difficult to burn.

The refining process for diesel also results in a higher sulfur content, leading to more emissions and environmental harm.

The Future of Diesel

Going forward, manufacturers and governments are focusing on cleaner alternatives.

This has led to the development of ultra-low sulfur diesel, which significantly reduces sulfur content.

Additionally, advancements in electric and hybrid technologies are further transforming the automotive industry, offering greener alternatives to traditional diesel and gasoline vehicles.

What's the verdict?Are diesel engines less eco-friendly now?Are there alternatives?