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Luke Tonachel’s Blog

Heavy Trucks Can Be Cheaper and Cleaner

Luke Tonachel

Posted May 5, 2014 in Moving Beyond Oil, Solving Global Warming

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The trucks that haul freight on our highways, deliver packages to our door and pickup our garbage can be much more efficient, saving fuel and money and reducing carbon pollution. By 2025, the average new truck could consume 40 percent less fuel and emit 40 percent less carbon dioxide than trucks made in 2010.

In his Climate Action Plan, President Obama calls for new standards to strengthen fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Strong standards are necessary because trucks are the second largest and fastest growing source of carbon pollution and oil use in the transportation sector. As outlined in the graphic below, adopting cost-effective technologies to improve truck fuel efficiency will benefit the environment, our energy security and businesses that rely on trucking.

Truck Standards Infographic - Final.png

In the coming months, I’ll post more details describing strong federal truck efficiency standards. Standards applicable to trucks build after 2018 are expected to be proposed by the Obama Administration in January 2015.

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Comments

James Richard TyrerMay 8 2014 01:06 AM

I have to wonder if this is actually possible. A 46% reduction in fuel usage of 18 wheelers can only be achieved by an increase in engine and driveline efficiency with the same horsepower available at the wheels with only minor improvements in aerodynamics of what is basically a box. That is I presume that this reduction is meant with a full load, otherwise it is basically meaningless.

So, how are they going to do this. I realize that the turbocharged single rail direct injection Diesel engines in automobiles have improved in efficiency over the past years and that applying these advances to heavy truck engines will improve efficiency. However, I have my doubts about that much of an improvement.

Luke TonachelMay 9 2014 07:50 AM

Thanks for the comment, James. Long-haul tractor-trailers have a lot of opportunities for improvements. As you may recall, the current “phase 1” standards for model years 2014 through 2018 will reduce tractor fuel consumption by as much as 23% compared to 2010 tractors. The upcoming “phase 2” standards will build on the phase 1 savings through a range of technologies that includes engine dual-stage turbocharging, improved combustion controls, reduced friction, better aftertreatment controls, engine downsizing, waste heat recovery, advanced transmissions, more efficient axle designs, fuel-efficient tires and significant aerodynamic improvements to trailers. In the coming weeks, I’ll share more details on our analysis based on technology assessments by the National Research Council and others.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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