There has been a lot of negative press about the small and medium sized engines in cars lately. Truth is, diesels can be very dirty. They have long had a reputation of being loud, black smoke belching engines whose only benefit is house hauling torque. Car companies have spent millions this over the past few years hoping to change your mind. Sadly, in one very silly decision, Volkswagen has undone all that progress.
It’s a shame, really. Because the diesel engine has come a very long way. They aren’t the sooty behemoths of years past. Years of increasingly tighter regulations have forced engineered to refine them into the quiet, allegedly eco friendly, power plants of today. If anything, people should consider “dieselgate” a very good thing. Despite what many have said, there are still a lot of reasons why diesels shouldn’t be tossed to the wayside just yet.
Dieselgate will make them cleaner
This scandal has shone a very revealing light on more than one organization. It would be unfair to point a finger solely at Volkswagen, though there is no doubt much of the blame does land in their laps. Another organization, the Environmental Protection Agency, should have been able to catch Volkswagen long ago. Critics have long called for changes to how they test and monitor exhaust emissions. Finally, they will be making these changes. And, by extension, they will force engineers industry wide to clean up diesel emissions. The end result will be cleaner, more refined engines.
Changing a diesel’s fuel is a fast way to get cleaner. Pure biodiesel, which can run in converted diesel engines, or biodiesel blends, burn substantially cleaner than strait petrol diesel. B20, or 20% biodiesel and 80% petrol diesel, can be put in most stock diesel engines on the market today.
EPA mileage requirements make them a necessity
Many will argue the net result of increased regulations will lead to scrapping diesel engines all together. Not so. One of diesel’s biggest strengths is how much more mileage you get on average, when compared to a similar gas engine. On average, manufactures post 10-15% better numbers with diesels. With the minimum mileage requirements from CAFE by 2025 fast approaching, companies will be looking for ways to boost their fleet average. High end companies and those with light duty trucks will use mid duty diesel engines to gain three or four mileage points towards their average. No matter how turbo or efficient, gas engines simply won’t compare, meaning a diesel option will always be around.
Biodiesel is a wonderful thing. The simple action of switching to this fuel makes a diesel much cleaner. But what most people may not realize is converting your diesel or using a mixture of fuels is actually a way get fuel in some form of crisis. In a post-apocalyptic world, regardless of the cause, fuels like gasoline will be a limited resource. Diesel, unlike gasoline, does not separate over time, meaning it can be safely stored and used. With a B20 engine, you can mix regular diesel with simple vegetable oils to make reserves last longer. A converted engine, and a stock one in a pinch, can run purely off vegetable oils. Need a fast source? Many already run their diesel vehicles using old restaurant fryer oil. Without needing to rely on established infrastructure, a diesel keeps working well after the rest of the world isn’t.