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Old 03-02-2012, 12:00 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Pet peeve: "clean diesel" greenwashing

The marketers are doing diesel a disservice with the whole "clean diesel" greenwashing campaign.

"Cleaner"? Sure.

But "clean"? Nuh-uh!

Pisses me off every time I read or hear that description. Actually creates a negative impression in my mind of the companies using that tactic. (Probably not what the marketers want to hear. But then again, likely not how the majority reacts.)

And for fairness sake: I'll also say I don't like it when EV's are marketed as having "zero emissions" (reminder: I have an EV).

It's all sneaky greenwashing that serves to create ammunition for opponents.

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Old 03-02-2012, 12:02 PM   #2 (permalink)
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(Also: I bet this topic has come up before. I'm so behind the times. )
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Old 03-02-2012, 12:11 PM   #3 (permalink)
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What's you beef with the "clean" label? You don't think modern diesels are clean compared to what? Gasoline vehicles?

"Clean" in terms of smoke? other emissions? CO2?
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Old 03-02-2012, 01:27 PM   #4 (permalink)
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are you talking about commercials like these? I really don't see an issue with trying to change the way people think of diesel especially when you compare the 15ppm ulsd of today to the 750+ ppm sulfur diesel of the 70's and 80's. the engines and the fuel have come a long way-
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Old 03-02-2012, 01:47 PM   #5 (permalink)
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No objection to education.

My beef is: nothing with emissions is "clean" - gas, electric, or diesel.

The description "clean" implies the task of dealing with emissions is complete! Things are as good as they need to be! Might as well call them "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!" diesels.

We know is not true. In 20 years the current crop of engines will probably be considered gross polluters.

Quote:
You don't think modern diesels are clean compared to what?
That's my point. They are definitely "cleaner" (a relative term - compared to previous engines). They are not "clean" (an absolute term).

(Feel free to dismiss my pet peeve as semantics.)
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Old 03-02-2012, 02:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MetroMPG View Post
We know is not true. In 20 years the current crop of engines will probably be considered gross polluters.

(Feel free to dismiss my pet peeve as semantics.)
I don't remember which car it was but about 20 years ago, there was an "Ultra Clean" car who's exhaust was "cleaner" than the intake air I was in LA back then at Hughes Aircraft and from our hill top we could only see Long Beach about once a month I was happy to leave that city in the rear view mirror. So yeah clean is a relative term.
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Old 03-02-2012, 02:21 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I remember something about that...

I think it might have been a Saab (Subaru?) They even fed its intake straight from the exhaust from an earlier (2-stroke?) model, yet the output from the tailpipe was still cleaner than the ambient air at that time.

Was a neat display for sure.
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Old 03-02-2012, 02:23 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MetroMPG View Post
The description "clean" implies the task of dealing with emissions is complete! Things are as good as they need to be! Might as well call them "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!" diesels.
Well, in one sense that's close to being true (not counting CO2). North American and European diesel emissions regulations started in the late 80's & early 90's. The regulations are typically announced ~5-10 years or so ahead of time in order to give manufacturers time to develop the technology. The last phase-in in North America wraped up in 2010. EuroIV will roll out in 2014 (almost in production now). While many of the other parts of the world are catching up, I haven't heard any rumors of any further tightning of the emissions standards in North America & Europe (and I work in diesel R&D). Keep in mind that if you compare these latest regs with the original ones (around 1990), the emissions levels are around 50-60 times less. Yes, that's 50-60 times (not percent). We're talking about pollutant levels that used to be measured in the thousands of parts per million (ppm), that are now measured in the single digits. If you're still using an internal combustion engine, there literally isn't much more that can be done to make them much cleaner. Depending on where you're driving, you really are looking at the tailpipe emissions being almost as clean as the ambient air.

CO2 regualtions are, of course, still tightening, but that's a topic for another thread.

I do get your point, however, that nothing's is truly and completely "clean"--including humans--which put out CO2 & methane

Just as an FYI, the term "clean diesel" can mean different things to different people, however, my understanding is that the first origin came with the advent of the ultra-low sulphur diesel fuel (ULSD), which came in 2007 in the US. Previously, everybody ran low sulfur diesel which had <500 ppm sulphur. ULSD has <15 ppm sulpher. While that change did result in a reduction in sulpher dioxide emissions directly, the big change was that it allowed the manufactures to use various forms of aftertreatment with catalysts. Suphur poisons catalysts and can also form sulphuric acid in aftertreatment. So removing the suphur from the fuel enabled the use of diesel particulate filters (DPFs), diesel oxidation catalysts (DOCs), selectic catalytic reduction (SCR), and lean NOx adsorbers. The use of those devices has brought down the emissions by at least an order of magnitude. Of course they've also reduced the fuel efficiencies of the engine and increased the cost substantially. I was just reading an article in Diesel Power magazine about diesels being sold in 1/2 ton pickups in the US. The diesel exhaust/aftertreatment system cost more than the total cost of the gasoline engine & transmission combined.
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Old 03-02-2012, 03:35 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The new crop of diesels with DPFs have cleaner emissions, that's a fact. Unfortunately, they are still filthy in terms of the amount of petroleum they are designed to burn. The cursed VW TDI is warranted to use ONLY 5% biodiesel -- I will never buy one unless I can convert it to burn 100% biodiesel like any good diesel should.
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Old 03-02-2012, 04:21 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Diesel_Dave -

Quote:
Originally Posted by Diesel_Dave View Post
...

I do get your point, however, that nothing's is truly and completely "clean"--including humans--which put out CO2 & methane

...
I have no problem with it because "clean diesel" is the corollary to the old moniker of "dirty diesel". I also think that the "dirty diesel" label preceded greenwashing.

CarloSW2

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