California’s battle to cut emissions with biofuels burns in new truck engines -Breaking
© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: A fuel pump for alternative fuel stations that provide fuel beyond gasoline in San Diego, California on January 8, 2015 is displayed. REUTERS/Mike Blake
By Laura Sanicola
(Reuters] – While renewable diesel is often praised as cleaner burning fuel, a study recently found that the fuel does not reduce emissions from truck engines. California regulators should be concerned about this finding.
State, which is the biggest vehicle market in the country has been aggressive in trying to curb fossil fuel emissions. It also encourages the production and use of renewable diesel. These are key factors in helping reduce emissions in difficult-to-electrify sectors like trucking.
California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard is a law that seeks to reduce the state’s transport fuel’s carbon emissions.
Renewable diesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 50% compared to petroleum-based diesel. It has been promoted to reduce the emissions of NOx (oxygen of nitrogen), which is a pollutant that causes respiratory problems and contributes to ozone depletion.
A study by California Air Resources Board (CARB), released in November found that engines with renewable diesel emit greater NOx emissions than those with traditional diesel. It was especially noticeable when the diesel is mixed with 35% or more biodiesel.
The regulators could change the way they revise LCFS. This is what spurred investments in renewable diesel that was made of vegetable and oil oils.
State regulators will be looking at changes to the LCFS in order to meet a 2022 goal that all Californian regions must comply with national air quality standards. Regulators may have to look at whether renewable diesel can increase emissions in poor air quality areas.
CARB claimed that “a number of questions related to the results of the study” have been identified and it will accept public comment until the end January.
The request for comments was not answered by regulators.
Heavy duty vehicles contribute the most NOx emissions. They are a precursor to ozone formation and particulate matter. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that NOx emissions have fallen by 60% in the past 20 years thanks to improved emission control technology.
Companies and regulators have claimed previously that renewable diesel lowers NOx emissions by 10%. This was based on earlier studies which examined its performance in older engines.
The study found that trucks equipped with renewable diesel-powered engines didn’t have significant lower NOx emission levels. While these new technology diesel engines, or ‘NTDE’ engines, are present in only 43% of the state’s commercial vehicle registrations, they account for more than 75% of the miles traveled among the state’s heavy-duty fleet.
“CARB threw caution to the wind and opened the door to renewable diesel’s unlimited use without having properly studied NOx emissions impact in NTDEs,” said Pat McDuff, chief executive officer at Glendale-based California Fueling, in a public comment submitted in January.
California regulators should reverse the ban on his company selling additives for fuel that reduce NOx emissions from biodiesel, he said.
The state is seeking to make 19 states comply with the 2015 air quality standards. The state is trying to bring 19 regions into compliance with the 2015 air quality standards. The 2020 regulation by the regulators was to lower NOx emissions 95% before 2027.
Tristan Brown is an associate professor at SUNY in energy resource economics. He also advises on New York’s Climate Action Council. Renewable diesel cuts generally greenhouse gas emissions.
Brown stated that the average biodiesel blend in America is only 20%. Brown explained that it is unclear how much NOx is emitted at NTDE engine volumes of between 10% to 20% for biodiesel blends. The study does not report this information.