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Diesel Fuel Advantages - 50 Reasons

Diesel Is The Ultimate Fuel

Photography by The SAE and U.S. Department Of Energy, Courtesy of Bosch

Judging by the title of this magazine, it should come as no surprise we here at Diesel Power are a little biased toward diesels. Why?

First of all, there's the emotional element-we were all raised by a pack of wild oil-burners. For a more down to earth explanation, facts, physics, and reason all point to diesel power over gasoline power as the transportation and energy solution. Here are some tidbits of wisdom you can share with the compression ignition non-believers. There are many more reasons, but due to the economy and worldwide ink shortages, we limited ourselves to 50.

1. Only a diesel vehicle can tow, be a work truck, drag race, sled pull, off-road race, and still be a reliable daily driver.

2. Diesel fuel is 15 percent more energy dense than gasoline.

3. A diesel releases less carbon dioxide into the air because it is more fuel efficient.

4. Diesel fuel does not evaporate as easily as gasoline, so it is much safer in accidents.

5. The Army uses diesel fuel.

6. The Navy uses diesel fuel.

7. The Marines use diesel fuel.

8. The trucking industry uses diesel fuel.

9. The aviation industry uses diesel fuel.

10. The mining industry uses diesel fuel.

11. The railroad industry uses diesel fuel.

12. The maritime shipping industry uses diesel fuel.

13. The U.S. Coast Guard uses diesel fuel.

14. The construction industry uses diesel fuel.

15. Diesel engines are like garbage disposals-they'll eat any type of oil-based fuel.

16. It's easier to recycle a diesel engine compared with a gasoline-electric hybrid.

17. After a few decades, someone will pay you for your junk diesel engine.

18. Due to their complicated construction, people will have to pay to recycle their gasoline-electric hybrid.

19. Diesel vehicles do not need complicated evaporation emission control systems.

20. All types of plastics can be made from biodiesel and vice versa.

21. Biodiesel could help off-roaders and racers who are dealing with emission and noise laws.

22. A diesel only compresses air in its cylinders, so fuel does not contaminate the oil like in a gasoline engine.

23. A diesel only compresses air, so carbon monoxide and unburned hydrocarbons do not form in the crevices of the cylinder wall like in a gasoline engine.

24. A gasoline engine needs large amounts of fuel to get it started in cold weather (think about using the choke). If you do a lot of stop-and-go driving, your car will never get its estimated fuel economy.

25. A diesel produces maximum torque at low engine speed. This makes it perfect for getting heavy loads moving.

26. A diesel is more reliable because it does not have to deal with a spark ignition system.

27. An article written by the Health Effects Institute suggests older diesel engines produce safer emissions. Although older engines produce more emissions by mass, their particles are larger and less dangerous.

28. You'll never have to worry about pre-ignition in a compression ignition engine.

29. Biodiesel has 34% more energy densitythan ethanol.

30. The largest and most powerful internal combustion engine in the world is a diesel (Wartsilla-Sulzer RTAA96-C).

31. If you're a fish, it's better to have 100,000 gallons of biodiesel spill into your river than 1 ounce of gasoline.

32. A diesel vehicle holds its value better than a gasoline one.

33. A mechanically injected diesel does not need electricity to keep it going. If your alternator fails, a diesel engine will get you home.

34. It is easier to turbocharge a diesel engine.

35. It is easier to supercharge a diesel engine.

36. Gasoline engines produce deadly concentrations of carbon monoxide. By contrast, diesels produce little carbon monoxide.

37. Diesel fuel is a lubricant. Gasoline is a solvent. What would you rather spray on your cylinder walls?

38. India's Tata Energy Research Institute said clean diesel beats compressed natural gas (CNG) on cost and delivers the same amount of "toxic" pollutants.

39. Compressed natural gas has 75% less energy density than diesel fuel.

40. The best batteries are 85% less energy dense than diesel fuel.

41. The diesel BMW 520D luxury car beat the Toyota Prius economy car in fuel economy tests.

42. Diesel dominated at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

43. If you're driving up a steep hill or carrying a heavy load, a diesel engine is less likely to stall.

44. Since diesels are built to withstand high compression, they are built with stronger pieces, which makes them last longer.

45. Rudolf Diesel built his engine to improve mankind.

46. With no ignition system, the mechanical diesel engine will not interfere with radios, communication devices, or pacemakers.

47. Diesels are better in remote areas and third world countries because they can run on vegetable oil and are less complicated than other drivetrains.

48. Since a diesel is more efficient, it generates less noise and waste heat.

49. Diesel fuel and exhaust just smells better.

50. Diesel engines require less fuel to drive a given distance or do a certain amountof work. Less fuel burned is less fuel refined, less fuel transported, less fuel stored, and less fuel spilled. And using less fuel in all of these categories is an advantage for the engine, vehicle, driver, economy, environment, and Diesel Power readers just like you!

The Sacred Seven
1. A typical gasoline engine has a throttle plate. This unfortunate feature restricts its cylinders from completely filling up with air, except at wide-open throttle. This creates a vacuum in the intake manifold and pumping losses for the engine. A diesel, on the other hand, allows its cylinders to take full breaths of air during every intake stroke and instead relies on increasing the amount of fuel to create torque. The average gasoline engine spends 16 to 40 percent of its total power on overcoming its own air intake restriction (throttle). The word "throttle" is exciting for some reason. Perhaps with more knowledge, its meaning will change to what it represents-a wheezy and inefficient way to control power.

2. Diesel has history on its side. In 1824, Nicolas Leonard Sadi Carnot wrote the book Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire. It answered the question: How much work can you get from a certain amount of heat? He found the amount of work was not infinite and devised a theoretical ideal engine, which laid the foundation for the study of turning heat into mechanical energy. Carnot influenced Rudolf Diesel, and that is why his engine had such a high compression ratio.

3. Diesel engines have a higher compression ratio. Gasoline engines wish they could match diesel's 17:1 to 20:1 ratio, but if they push it past 10:1 (approximate), a gasoline engine's air-fuel mixture detonates before it's supposed to and could destroy the engine. The reason higher compression ratios equal more power is because of the increased cylinder pressure they offer. Let's say you have two identical single-cylinder engines with different compression ratios. If you added the same amount of fuel to each engine, you would get more horsepower from the one with a higher compression ratio. Plus, the lower-compression-ratio engine has more combustion-chamber surface area, which gives the heat more area to escape, instead of pushing down on the piston. Less waste heat equals more horsepower through greater efficiency.

4. A diesel runs leaner air-fuel ratios than a gas engine. Run a gasoline engine too lean and there will be problems like overheating, loss of power, and a non-functioning catalytic converter. In the worst-case scenario, a gasoline engine seizes and the catalytic converter gets destroyed. In order for a modern gas engine's catalytic converter to work properly, it needs a minimum 14.7:1 air-fuel ratio. What's more amazing, is gas engines dump excess fuel under wide-open throttle to cool combustion. A diesel is just the opposite. When fuel is added to the engine, the exhaust gas temperature goes up, and when it runs lean, the temperature goes down. At idle its possible for a diesel engine to run an air-fuel mixture as high as 100:1, and the worst that can happen under these conditions is the engine stalls due to lack of fuel.

5. A diesel's exhaust system will last much longer than a gasoline engine's exhaust system. Remember how we just said a diesel runs leaner? An added benefit is less water in the exhaust system. Water corrodes, so having dry exhaust is key to long exhaust pipe life. Water is not in fuel, but hydrogen is, and it combines with oxygen from the air during combustion to produce water vapor. If the outside air temperature is low enough, condensation occurs inside the pipe(s) and muffler(s), rusting them from the inside out. LexCarb LLC came up with an engineering solution to capitalize on this situation and it is called an On-board Water Recovery Unit. The Army quickly took notice, since it would help with logistics, specifically providing EPA-approved drinking water. Another use includes fueling an onboard hydrogen generator.

6. People who need performance need diesel. Take a look at those who do serious work-what they have in common is diesel power. For example, the military, trucking, railroad, mining, construction, and aviation industries all use diesel fuel. The United States is the only country in the world dominated by gasoline. In fact, we use more gasoline than the rest of the world-combined!

7. Diesels beat hybrids. The only way a gasoline-powered car can compete with the fuel economy of a diesel is when it is paired with an electric motor. Like all electrical devices, an electric motor produces an electromagnetic frequency (EMF). EMF has been linked to causing all kinds of health problems, including cancer. Imagine truck drivers sitting right on top of this device most of their lives. There might be a shield of some type to protect people in the future, but for now, it's drive hybrids at your own risk.

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