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What are Clean Diesel Engines?

What are Clean Diesel Engines?

By Jeff Youngs, December 31, 2011

Diesel automobiles earned a bad reputation in the 1980s when automakers introduced underpowered and noisy diesel engines. All of that is now in the past, as today's modern replacements are environmentally friendly, powerful, and quiet. They are, quite literally, clean diesel engines.

Today's diesel engines run on ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel (ULSD). The fuel is unique in that it has been refined with a very low sulfur content 97 percent cleaner than its predecessor. In addition, some diesel engines rely on a urea injection system to chemically alter the composition of the exhaust emissions, while others utilize advanced catalytic converters and scrubbers to clean the air before it exits the exhaust. In all cases, the black smoke and soot is gone.

Turbochargers have taken the lag out of diesels as well, improving drivability and making them among the most powerful engines on the road. Torque the twisting force that helps a vehicle accelerate from a standstill is a diesel's strength. For this reason, they are often used for pulling heavy loads.

Diesel engines are also much quieter these days, but they still emit an odd clunky noise when operating properly (instead of using a spark plug, they rely on highly compressed hot air for ignition thus explaining some of the noise). But advanced sound insulation and better mufflers have done wonders to lower the noise.

From every angle, it is obvious that clean diesel technology has revolutionized the once-dirty diesel power plant.


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