Advanced Petroleum-Based Fuels

Diesel engines power most of the heavy vehicles that move people and goods in the United States. As the power source for heavy vehicles with gross vehicle weights of more than 8,500 pounds, diesel engines offer high efficiency, reliability, and durability. Diesel engines incorporating advanced combustion regimes are gaining acceptance in light trucks and automobiles as their benefits become better known because these light-duty diesel engines offer considerably improved efficiency over conventional internal combustion engines.

Diesel engines are facing increasingly stringent emission standards for nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for 2007 are designed to reduce emissions of NOx, PM, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons and to help cities achieve National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Advanced petroleum-based fuels are critical to enabling diesel-powered vehicles to achieve high fuel economy while meeting future emission standards. Such advanced petroleum-based fuels typically consist of a highly refined petroleum base fuel derived from crude oil, possibly blended with performance-enhancing non-petroleum fossil resources such as natural gas or coal.

Advanced Petroleum-Based Fuels

The Advanced Petroleum-Based Fuels (APBF) activity focuses on improving advanced technology and compression-ignition engine efficiency and meeting emissions standards. The activity aims to develop new advanced fuels and lubricants that will decrease consumption of imported petroleum, maximize engine efficiency, and improve emissions performance of existing and future vehicles.

Diesel Emission Control Project

The Advanced Petroleum-Based Fuels-Diesel Emission Control (APBF-DEC) Project was initiated to identify the best combinations of low-sulfur diesel fuels, lubricants, diesel engines, and emission control systems to meet more stringent emission standards taking effect during this decade. These new standards are being phased into effect between 2004 and 2009 for passenger cars and light-duty trucks. Additional new standards take effect in 2006 for highway diesel fuel and in 2007 for heavy-duty trucks.

The mandated low-sulfur fuels will have dramatic impacts on emission control technologies, lubricant properties, and engine durability. Several APBF-DEC studies are under way to determine how best to address appropriate vehicle technologies for use with these new low-sulfur fuels.

New Fuels

The APBF activity also supports the development of fuel formulations that could provide several benefits, including:

  • Reduced reliance on imported petroleum fuels;
  • Near-zero-emission engines that will protect public and environmental health;
  • New markets for U.S. energy companies and engine manufacturers;
  • Liquid fuels that can be used with the existing infrastructure;
  • Maximum engine and fuel production efficiency; and
  • Reliable, durable engines to move goods and people.
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