In our collective pursuit of sustainability and net-zero goals, it is crucial to acknowledge the pivotal role diesel plays in powering industrial, government, transportation, and mission critical facilities across the country. While we continue to strive for cleaner alternatives, it is equally important to recognize the immediate importance of diesel engines and their contribution to our infrastructure.
It’s no secret that diesel emissions negatively affect human health, our environment, and global climate, as well as disproportionately affecting communities of color and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities.
Yet, diesel engines continue to be essential due to their durability, high energy density, and long operational life. And according to Cummins’ director and general manager Mike Fowler, diesel is definitively not dead. In fact, Cummins is spending more today on diesel engine research and development than at any other time in its 100-year history.
The importance of diesel engines in mission critical facilities
Diesel engines play a crucial role in the operation of mission critical facilities, providing a reliable and efficient power source to ensure uninterrupted operations. These facilities, such as data centers, hospitals, emergency response centers, and telecommunication hubs, require a continuous and stable power supply to maintain their critical functions, even during grid failures or other emergencies.
The importance of diesel engines lies in their ability to rapidly supply electricity in the event of power outages, ensuring essential services and operations can continue without disruption. This is particularly vital for facilities that handle critical operations, as any downtime could lead to severe consequences, ranging from financial losses to jeopardizing public safety.
Beyond mission critical applications, diesel engines power a vast array of industrial machinery, supporting essential sectors such as manufacturing, construction and agriculture. According to the Diesel Technology Forum, diesel engines are currently in use with nearly 95% of the heavy-duty trucks, construction equipment and agricultural machinery in the United States.
The implications of record demand
The current landscape of mission critical facilities is witnessing an unprecedented surge in demand, setting new records for power consumption. But this surge is posing significant industry challenges due to power constraints, especially in emerging markets where the demand is soaring. Other factors contributing to recent surges in demand include the rising prevalence of artificial intelligence (AI), streaming services, gaming, and other innovative technologies that are now integral parts of modern life.
A major implication of this new demand surge is the availability of current infrastructure, which is not keeping pace with demand, leading to bottlenecks in the process.
Amid these constraints, discussions are underway to explore potential solutions. One such approach is allowing existing power generation equipment to continue running to provide relief to the stressed power grid in specific regions of the country. This strategy could help ease the burden on the grid and provide a temporary but much-needed reprieve while more comprehensive and long-term solutions are developed and implemented.
Cleaner diesel technologies today
The quest for sustainability has driven the development of cleaner diesel technologies, and many are available right now, and include:
Hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO). A notable development in this direction is the approval of HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) for use by all manufacturers, marking a step forward in utilizing more environmentally friendly fuels. Over the years, diesel engines have undergone remarkable advancements in both efficiency and emissions control since the turn of the millennium.
Ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD). The adoption of ULSD and the implementation of effective emissions controls results in substantial reductions in harmful pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM).
Active diesel particulate filter technology. Active diesel particulate filters (DPFs) can significantly reduce emissions of particulate matter, a major component of diesel exhaust. These filters trap and remove harmful particles, thereby improving air quality and reducing the environmental impact of diesel engines.
And one of the best reasons for adopting active DPF technology is that it does not require the purchase of new electric engines, which can be vastly cost-prohibitive. Existing engines of many different sizes and brands can be retrofitted with this technology. Implementing active DPFs can have these immediate benefits:
- Removal of up to 95% of black carbon soot upon installation
- Reduction of diesel fuel consumption on units where filtration is needed
- Meeting current air quality standards
- Reduction of labor and maintenance costs in the long run
- Sound attenuation
- No negative effect on engine performance
Diesel engine advancements. There is also a resolute commitment from engine manufacturers to continue their efforts in reducing emissions on a global scale. This dedication reflects the industry’s recognition of the importance of mitigating environmental impacts and striving for cleaner, greener technologies. While these advancements are crucial for various applications, they are especially indispensable for mission critical operations, where reliability and performance are paramount.
Mitigating our diesel footprint for a sustainable future
While we pursue net-zero ESG goals, it is important to recognize the immediate significance of diesel engines in data centers and other mission critical facilities. As we strive for a sustainable future, it is necessary to stay current with the latest advancements in cleaner diesel. By shifting focus to the rapidly advancing technologies we have available today (versus what might become available at some point in the future), we can actively contribute to a greener and more efficient infrastructure.
Whether you manage, data centers, hospitals, universities, or other diesel-powered equipment, Rypos can help you reduce your diesel emissions and make an immediate impact on your environment.