Is Clean Diesel The Short Term Answer To Our Energy Woes?

Clean diesel. What is it? According to the Diesel Technology Forum it is diesel with less sulfur, combined with new engine technology, that makes for a clean diesel engine. They also state the new engines are quieter, less polluting and more powerful.

VW is introducing a TDI model which uses clean diesel and promises not only a clean burning vehicle, but also one that has more more and better mileage. Based on their popular Jetta model, there are claims that the car will get 40 mpg in the city and 50 mpg on the highway.

Here is what Popular Mechanic has to say about the VW Jetta TDI model:

Merging with northbound traffic on Interstate 75 just outside Auburn Hills, Mich., I punch the accelerator, quickly swing left into the passing lane and pull forcefully ahead of the cars around me. In any other ride, on any other gray morning, it’d be just another Interstate moment. But this rush hour, I’m behind the wheel of a preproduction 2009 Volkswagen Jetta, which is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-charged, direct-injected diesel engine that, even as I leave the speed limit in tatters, is averaging nearly 50 mpg. Equally important, what’s coming out of the tailpipe is no dirtier than the emissions from the 35-mpg econoboxes I can now see in my rearview mirror. Speed, fuel efficiency and minimal emissions? These aren’t characteristics usually associated with diesel-powered vehicles. But they will be.

Most Americans have a bad impression of diesel cars. We think of them as loud, hard to start and foul-smelling. We sneer at them for lacking the get-up-and-go of their gasoline-powered cousins. And we dislike them for their perceived environmental sins, chiefly the polluting brew of sulfur and nitrogen compounds that they emit into the atmosphere. All those complaints were fair a generation ago, when the twin energy crises of the 1970s propelled diesels into national popularity and kept them there for a decade. Back then, many drivers ignored diesel’s faults, or were unaware of them, because diesel cars ran 30 percent farther on a gallon of fuel than similar gasoline-powered cars. It felt savvy to buy a diesel, even daring. Then fuel prices dropped in the mid-1980s, and drivers abandoned their clattering, odoriferous fuel sippers. They went back to gasoline.

So will clean burning diesel cars solve our gasoline woes, or is this just a temporary solution to a long range problem?

Comments welcome.

Popular Mechanic Article

VW TDI Model

DTF Source