Will Racing Success Bring Diesel Technology Forward?
- June 13, 2007
- Audi, Technology & New Features, The Car Biz
- Posted by dbarrett
- Comments Off on Will Racing Success Bring Diesel Technology Forward?
As concern regarding fossil fuels and dependence on specific suppliers mounts worldwide, answers to alternative fuel solutions remain largely elusive for the mainstream. Ethanol, hydrogen, and other fuels are not as easily accepted as one might expect.
Even diesel power has not been widely accepted in the United States. And, while there are numerous reasons why diesel power has historically been viewed differently in the U.S., today, there are several reasons why many Americans are taking a second look at diesel power.
Audi Commits Racing Fortunes to Diesel
There are several key reasons to consider diesel power, including advantages of fuel consumption, emissions, and the overall performance of modern diesel engines. To underscore these benefits, Audi embarked on a challenging mission at the turn of the (21st) century. The German car maker decided to create a LeMans racer powered by a fuel-efficient diesel engine. The goal, to win over Ferrari, Porsche, Ford, and scores of other manufacturers. The result: win after win.
In 2006, the Audi diesels finished one, two, and three – their 650HP V12 TDI engines not only more economical, but also with tremendous torque. The Audis pit every 14 – 15 laps, while their competitors would have to pit after 10 to 12 laps. The whoosh of the cars at speed also impresses – they are extremely quiet, making the racing experience very new and exciting. This week’s 24 Hours of LeMans will see additional diesel powered cars, including the pole-sitting Peugeot Diesel.
But, does Diesel fuel really provide an alternative? Removing sulfur from diesel fuel is an essential component to achieving reductions in emissions. Within the last few months, new ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel has become available worldwide. ULSD will reduce particulate emissions by 10%.
Contemporary Diesels a Persuasive Proposition
Compared to diesel engines of 10 years ago, today’s diesel automobiles have 80 percent lower particulate emissions, 70 percent lower nitrogen oxide emissions, 15 percent improved fuel consumption, 50 percent more power and 30 percent more torque (data from R.L. Polk & Company). Modern diesel cars, trucks and SUVs are also much quieter than their predecessors, and today, gasoline and diesel vehicles are being certified to the same stringent emissions standard. According the J.D Power researchers, sales of diesel vehicles will climb from the current 3% level to more than 10% by 2015.
How does this affect our choices relevant to fuels? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that Americans could save up to 1.4 million barrels of oil per day if one-third of all vehicles on the road were diesels. Currently, the U.S. imports that exact amount – 1.4 million barrels of oil per day – from Saudi Arabia. Add in options for Bio-Diesel, tax credits, and other factors and diesel power could be an option worth considering. A Porsche 911-Diesel? Never say never…