Diesel is the New Alternative Fuel


Original Article posted on April 18, 2017 in SchoolBusFleet.com

It would have been unheard of to call diesel a clean fuel 10, 15, even 20 years ago.  But, thanks to today’s ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) and new advances in engine technology diesel is the cleanest option to any alternative fuel.  “We are hearing a lot about alternative fuel in the industry right now,” said Caley Edgerly, president and CEO of Thomas Built Buses.  “However, instead of focusing on the alternative fuel trends, school districts should be talking about which school bus operates efficiently, is better for the environment and saves money on fuel costs. It’s always great to have options, but when it comes to fuel choice, diesel remains the best fuel option for fleets today.”

Diesel Isn’t Dirty

Today’s diesel contains ninety seven percent less sulfur which immediately cuts coot emissions from diesel vehicles and equipment by ten percent.  Driven by tougher EPA emissions standards, today’s diesel is composed of an ultra-low sulfur formula, which became standard in the United States in 2010. This new diesel formula is estimated to remove 2.6 million tons of nitrogen oxide from the air per year and reduce soot and particulate matter by 110,000 tons per year. Breaking this down to a per-bus standard, diesel today now emits no more than .2 grams per brake horsepower per hour of nitrogen oxides and .01 grams per brake horsepower per hour of particulate matter, which is a dramatic decrease from years past. (Figure 1.1)


From an engine standpoint, the long-awaited Detroit™ DD5™ is set to launch in 2018. This new engine will be revolutionizing the industry with state-of-the-art technology that not only greatly minimizes emissions, but also reduces the headache of aftertreatment maintenance and regen issues that have haunted technicians for years.

“What this means for districts is that they no longer have to seek alternative fuel sources in order to run a more efficient and cleaner fleet,” continues Edgerly. “Today’s clean-diesel engines, like the Cummins ISB 6.7L and the anticipated Detroit™ DD5™, provide lower emissions and best-in-class fuel efficiency, power, proven performance and reliability, as well as the lowest total cost of ownership. Districts can now feel confident with diesel as their fuel of choice without having to invest in the time and resources needed to switch to a new fuel type.”

By the Numbers 

With new engine specs and a cleaner fuel, the remarkable cleanliness of diesel is in the numbers. As you can see in the table below, which is based on the most recent EPA engine certifications, diesel engines are certified well below EPA emission ratings and perform on par with, if not better than, other alternative fuels. (Figure 2.1)


“When it comes to green fuel, the future is here,” concludes Edgerly. “And with new technology paving the way, districts no longer have to give up on the fuel that they prefer to provider cleaner air for their passengers and for the environment. Diesel has definitely become not only a contender in the field of alternative fuel, but today it is leading the pack and remains the fuel of choice.”

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