Clean Trucks and Dirty Burgers

Can a Big Rig Have Lower Particulate Emissions Than Grilling a Burger?

Frederick, Maryland, UNITED STATES

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 24, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- While the arrival of summer brings vacation driving season, grilling and cookouts, it also brings concerns about summer air quality and ozone. This summer, some new information challenges conventional thinking about how different activities contribute to air pollution.

According to a study by researchers at the University of California Riverside, charbroiling a 1/3 lb. hamburger on an open flame generates more particulate matter (PM) emissions than driving 143 miles in a new-generation heavy-duty diesel commercial truck.

“It’s unusual to compare the emissions from a backyard burger cookout to operating a big rig truck, but it’s instructive to understand the contributions of different emissions sources to our air quality,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. “This comparison illustrates that our newest generation of diesel technology vehicles can achieve near-zero emissions. The diesel engines of today nearly eliminate PM emissions – more than a 95 percent reduction from older generations of the technology. They also cut nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions by up to 90 percent; lower hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions by 50 to 90 percent; and lower soot emissions by 10 percent.”

Thanks in part to the growing penetration of the latest generation diesel technologies, air quality indicators across the United States continue to improve. According to the most recent national data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, PM emissions in the United States have fallen 21 percent and NOx emissions are down 31 percent. Emissions attributable to things that move – cars, trucks, equipment, ships, trains, etc. – are down by 7 percent for PM and 16 percent for NOx. Meanwhile, the number of miles traveled by cars, trucks, buses and equipment has grown by 31 percent. The transportation-related emission reductions can be attributed to improvements in engine and fuel technology, and the adoption of advanced diesel engines.

“By drastically reducing all these smog-contributing factors, diesel engines both large and small contribute to cleaner air, healthier communities and a greener planet,” said Schaeffer. “And, as more car drivers choose the latest generation diesel as an option for their own vehicles, diesel’s clean air and greenhouse gas benefits will only continue to compound.”

Fortunately, drivers in the United States will soon have more diesel-powered options to choose from for their next vehicle. In the lineup of available alternative fuel vehicles, diesel is the only one with choices in all vehicle segments – sedans, light trucks, SUVs, vans and luxury performance. And, earlier in 2018, six auto manufacturers announced new clean diesel options for passenger cars, SUVs and especially pick-up trucks.

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The Diesel Technology Forum is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of diesel engines, fuel and technology. Forum members are leaders in clean diesel technology and represent the three key elements of the modern clean-diesel system: advanced engines, vehicles and equipment, cleaner diesel fuel and emissions-control systems. For more information, visit


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