Wednesday, November 17th, 2010...11:57 am

The Diesel Revolution….At Some Point

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There are always those quite awkward, black sheep pumps at the gasoline station that seem to be placed all of the way at the end. The pumps are typically smaller than the normal gasoline pump and they are relatively run-down. I know that when I go to my local gas station there is never anyone using the diesel pumps.

But that sad situation may be subject to change in the immediate future. Recently there has been a trend back toward passenger cars that use diesel engines especially due to the “proliferation of so-called clean diesel or ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel” (Zeller Jr.). This new, cleaner diesel is redefining the diesel of the past that has frustrated and disgusted so many people, “Mr. Brauer said ‘Gone are the issues with cold starting. There’s no cloud of smoke when you start it up in the morning, and no rattling sounds when it’s idling’” (as cited by Zeller Jr.). No one wants to deal with an inconvenient, noisy and bad smelling car. For those reasons, as well as others, diesel cars disappeared from America’s roadways except for the occasional diesel pick-up truck or heavy equipment. Automobiles that did not run on gasoline became taboo in to the general population. But recently, with the sharp spikes in the prices of gasoline (to almost diesel prices), consumers began to actually consider passenger diesel vehicles as a viable option. The most prevalent examples of this are the Audi Green Police commercials and the Volkswagen TDI fleet. Today’s diesel powered cars are advertised as being incredibly fuel efficient as well as “clean” for the environment. The New York Times article written by Tom Zeller Jr., that I have also referenced above, explains that diesel cars are more efficient (20-40% more) than comparable gasoline powered vehicles. He also concludes that because diesel is less refined than gasoline, it is less harmful to the environment in terms of the entire “well to wheels” process.

Diesel is not only for trucks and heavy machinery. Diesel automobiles are slowly proliferating throughout Europe and their numbers are rising here in America as well. Compared to gasoline, diesel may be a more expensive product to fill up with, but in the long run it could help to save the environment. Diesel’s are not what they used to be so let us get that notion out of our heads! The refining of oil into gasoline is a large source of pollution that many people overlook. Diesel requires less refining and thus pollutes the environment less. Yes, many hybrids may slightly outperform diesels, but what will be done with the batteries from the hybrids when they all begin to break down? To me, diesel seems like an up-and-coming alternative that could provide a wonderful stepping stone away from our wicked gasoline addiction.

We have not discussed much about alternative fuels (especially diesel) in class or in any readings but hopefully this article will get you all thinking about the prospects of diesel cars or even alternative fuels in general.

Ben Rosen

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