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Diesel Passenger Vehicles and the Environment

Diesel cars and light trucks are receiving heightened attention as a near-term strategy to meet fuel economy and climate change goals. But amidst growing interest in diesels for passenger vehicles, there is also concern over the public health implications of expanding diesel’s mar- ket share.

While pollution from diesel passenger vehicles has been cut by a factor of 5–10 over the past two decades, it must be reduced another factor of 10 within the next few years in order to meet near-term pollution standards. Significant emission reductions appear technologically possible, but the engineering, economic, and infrastruc- ture challenges are large. The ten-fold reductions needed to meet next-generation standards will require a very high degree of technical success.

In addition to conventional pollution reductions, diesel engine research must also address evolving public health concerns, including emissions of ultrafine particles and toxics. These emerging issues must be dealt with if diesel is to meet increasingly stringent environmental needs.

An extremely rapid introduction of diesel passenger ve- hicles could yield carbon emission savings within the decade of up to 4 percent versus the base case. Such re- ductions could provide headway in the struggle against global warming, but are far from enough. Furthermore, these potential benefits must be appropriately balanced against the air quality risks posed by diesel.

D iesel engines power most of the nation’s trucks, buses, trains, ships, and offroad ma- chinery. Roughly one-fifth of the US trans-

portation sector’s energy is consumed in these en- gines (Davis 1998), and diesel fuel use is currently

growing faster than gasoline consumption (DeCicco and Mark 1998).

Diesel Passenger Vehicle Markets

Diesel passenger vehicles comprise a small share of the US fleet, accounting for approximately two per- cent of the fuel consumed by cars and light trucks to- day (Davis 1998). Currently, diesel cars make up a modest 0.1 percent of automobile sales, while diesel has now captured roughly 4 percent of light truck sales 1 (Davis 1998; AAMA 1996).

US Trends. US diesel automobile sales peaked dur- ing the early 1980s in the wake of two major oil shocks (Figure 1). Forecasts at that time projected sales would reach 20 percent by 1990 (DOT 1991). But fluctuations in the price of diesel fuel, declining gasoline prices, and vehicle performance problems all led to the diesel auto’s decline in the United States (Sperling 1988; Cronk 1995). Diesel light truck sales also experienced a boom in the early 1980s, although recent increases have far surpassed previous sales as the entire light truck mar- ket has grown quickly. US factory sales 2 of diesel light trucks have more than doubled in the past five

1 Vehicles up to 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight (GVW). Traditionally, light trucks have been catego- rized as vehicles up to 10,000 pounds GVW; however, air quality regulations define light trucks as vehicles up to 8,500 pounds GVW. 2 Actual sales numbers were not available. Factory sales constitute the majority of, but not all, light trucks sold in the United States.

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FIGURE 1

US Sales of Diesel Vehicles
US Sales of Diesel Vehicles

Light Trucks = 10,000 lbs. Gross Vehicle Weight and less Source: Davis 1998

years, especially in the heavier light truck segment (6,000–10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight) (AAMA 1996). Ford currently makes about 200,000 light trucks per year powered by Navistar diesel engines. Chrysler sells 60,000 Dodge Ram pickup trucks an- nually with Cummins diesel engines and may soon build sport-utility vehicles with Detroit Diesel en- gines. GM has recently announced plans to ramp up production of diesel engines for large light trucks with Isuzu (Nauss 1998; Konrad 1998). For diesel engine manufacturers, the light truck market is an opportunity for companies that currently sell hundreds of thousands of engines to begin pro- ducing millions of engines. At present, most of these engines are scaled-down versions of larger units built for heavy trucks. But most engine makers are pursu- ing even smaller engines that could be introduced more broadly throughout the market (Cummins

1998).

Automakers’ renewed interest in diesel engines for the US market has been spurred in large part by fuel economy regulations—the Cor- porate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. Despite the fact that light trucks are held to a lower standard than automobiles, 3 domestic automakers are falling short of their truck CAFE requirements

3 The automobile CAFE standard is 27.5 miles per gal- lon (mpg), while that for light trucks up to 8,500 pounds gross vehicle weight is 20.7 mpg (Davis 1998).

(Eisenstein 1997). These shortfalls are largely due to record sales of the most profitable but least efficient vehicles, particularly sport-utility vehicles and heavy pickups. 4 If light truck fuel economy does not im- prove in the coming years, domestic auto makers will be unable to accrue credits to offset the substantial debits that have accumulated during the past 2–5 years (Figure 2). By delivering a fuel economy im- provement of up to 30–50 percent, diesel engines are an attractive strategy for complying with the stan- dards.

Overseas markets for diesel passenger vehicles have historically been much larger than in the United States. Many countries in Europe and parts of Asia levy significantly higher taxes on motor fuels, particularly gasoline, that have spawned consumer interest in higher-efficiency diesel cars. Recent trends in Europe have been towards in- creasing diesel sales, where roughly one-quarter of all new automobiles are currently diesel powered (Walsh

FIGURE 2

US Manufacturer Light Truck CAFE Credits and Debits a

2 US Manufacturer Light Truck CAFE Credits and Debits a a. A calculated fine in a

a. A calculated fine in a given year does not necessarily mean a manufacturer owes that amount in a given year, since credits from up to three years before of after the year may be used to offset the penalty. Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

4 For example, the New York Times reports profits for Ford’s Expedition and Lincoln Navigator at $12,000– 15,000 per unit (Bradsher 1999) and the 1998 Dodge Durango was reported to provide $8,000 in profit per unit (Bradsher 1997).

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1997, Krieger et al. 1997). France, where roughly half of all new sales are diesel, has a particularly high proportion of diesel cars in its fleet (Wang et al. 1997). The trend does not appear to be restricted to Europe, however. In Japan, the number of diesel pas- senger vehicles appears to have tripled in the past decade (based on Walsh 1997). As a result of increasing globalization, most automakers selling in the US market now also pro- duce diesels for international markets, some on their own and some with foreign partners. This permits many companies to transfer research, development, and even production experience among global divi- sions. Traditionally, the tighter US air quality stan- dards have made the transfer of diesel technology to North America difficult without additional develop- ment costs. But the worldwide trend towards tighter emission standards is forcing technology improve- ments that may put more diesels in reach of the US standards. Conversely, research aimed at meeting the US targets will eventually pay off in foreign markets.

The renewed interest in die- sels is also driven by growing attention to climate change as a major environmental concern. The higher efficiency of diesel vehicles results in lower emissions of carbon dioxide, the chief gas responsible for global warming. While automakers officially op- posed the recent Kyoto Protocol that established le- gally-binding cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, many have demonstrated high-efficiency prototypes pow- ered by diesel as climate change mitigation technolo- gies. 5

Federal Support. Over the past five years, the US federal government’s interest in diesel vehicles has increased considerably, with consequent in- creases in research funding. Many federal agencies are sponsoring research on diesel vehicles, but the majority of research for passenger vehicles is funded by the Department of Energy, whose diesel budgets have been on the rise in recent years (Figure 3). Federal interest in diesels stems largely from the Administration’s focus on global warming and energy

5 For example, a recent Toyota advertisement in Time magazine reads: “If You’re Concerned About Global Warming You Should Be Interested in Diesel Engines.”

FIGURE 3

US Department of Energy Budget for Diesel Passenger Vehicle Research

US Department of Energy Budget for Diesel Passenger Vehicle Research Source: FY2000 DOE Budget request (February

Source: FY2000 DOE Budget request (February 1, 1999)

security as environmental policy priorities. Diesel is a priority component of the joint government-industry research project, the Partnership for a New Genera- tion of Vehicles (PNGV). Launched in 1993, PNGV’s primary goal is to develop a production- ready prototype of an 80 mile-per-gallon automobile by 2004. While several promising technologies are under consideration by PNGV, the lead option is a hybrid vehicle powered by a diesel engine. In addition to funding research on diesel passen- ger cars under PNGV, the federal government is also engaged in research to assist diesel engines in cap- turing a larger share of the light truck market. Under

TABLE 1

Gasoline vs. Diesel Fuel Economy, Efficiency, and Carbon Comparisons

diesel a

gasoline b

diesel vs.

 

gasoline

Fuel Parameters Heating Value (Btu/gal) c Carbon Content (gCO 2 /Btu) Example: 1998 VW Jetta e Fuel Economy (mpg) f Efficiency (mi/mmBtu) Carbon Emissions (g/mi)

128,500 115,500

0.094

0.095

43.6

339

280

26.7

231

408

+11% 0%
+11%
0%

+63%

+47%

-32%

a. Conventional diesel fuel (Wang 1998).

b. Conventional gasoline fuel (Wang 1998).

c. Lower heating value.

d. Full fuel cycle carbon emissions (Wang 1998).

e. 1.9-liter manual transmission diesel Jetta vs 2.0-liter gasoline versi

f. Combined city/highway fuel economy (adjusted).

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Diesel Passenger Vehicles and the Environment 3

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BOX 1

Diesel Technology Basics

State-of-the-art diesel passenger vehicles are powered by compression ignition direct injection (CIDI) engines.

Compression Ignition (CI) vs. Spark Ignition (SI). Traditional gasoline vehicles are powered by spark ignition (SI) engines, which use a spark to initiate combustion. In the compression ignition (CI) engines used in diesel vehicles, the fuel and air mixture spontaneously ignites as it is compressed in the engine’s cylinders. CI engines are more efficient during ideal conditions because they operate at higher compression ratios, permitting them to get more useful work out of each cycle. Diesel combustion can also be designed to occur away from the cylinder walls, re- ducing heat loss. As a result, the peak thermal efficiency of CI engines can be typically 10–30 percent higher than for SI engines. Diesel engines are also more efficient under real-world driving conditions, when a vehicle’s power demand fluctuates extensively. SI engines restrict the flow of the fuel and air mixture entering the cylinders when full power is not required, creating additional “throttling” losses and pumping losses. In contrast, CI engines re- duce only the fuel supplied in order to lower power output. Accounting for these additional driving cycle benefits, diesel engines can be a total of 25–50 percent more efficient than gasoline engines (Arcoumanis and Schindler

1997).

Direct Injection (DI) vs. Indirect Injection (IDI). Most heavy vehicles today use direct injection (DI) diesel en- gines, while until recently most automobile-size diesel engines have used indirect injection (IDI) technology. DI engines inject fuel and air directly into the cylinder, while an IDI engine uses a prechamber to help mix the fuel and air before entering the main cylinder. The IDI system comes with a 15 percent efficiency penalty compared to the DI because the prechamber permits additional energy losses (Ashley 1997; Arcoumainis and Schindler 1997), but its superior fuel and air mixing has been essential for diesel passenger vehicles. The small, high-speed engines used in automobiles require fuel and air to mix 10 times faster than in larger engines (Heywood 1988), something that has been difficult to achieve without a prechamber. Only recently have diesel engine developers overcome this mixing limitation with DI engines.

a Light Truck Clean Diesel (LTCD) program, the De- partment of Energy is working with industry to de- velop cleaner light-duty diesel engines.

A vehicle using a state-of-the-art diesel engine, the so-called compression ignition direction injection (CIDI) engine (see Box 1), offers a substantial fuel economy gain over today’s gasoline engines. How- ever, a portion of the higher fuel economy is a result of diesel fuel’s higher density: each gallon of diesel contains roughly 11 percent more energy. Correcting for fuel density, today’s best diesel cars are over 45 percent more efficient than their counterparts. This higher efficiency translates directly into 30–35 percent savings of carbon emissions, the chief gas responsible for global warming (Table 1).

Diesel Fuels. Future diesel fuel may need to be modified or replaced with alternatives to assist diesel engines in meeting air quality goals. Compared to conventional diesel, some of these fuel changes will yield higher greenhouse gas emissions. For example, Fischer-Tropsch diesel, a fuel manufactured from natural gas feedstocks, has the potential to lower emissions of key air pollutants but would increase carbon emissions by over 20 percent compared to conventional diesel (Figure 4). 6,7 In contrast,

6 This estimate is preliminary, since commercial facili- ties are not yet in production. The efficiency of Fischer-Tropsch production may increase in the future compared to the 68% conversion efficiency assumed here. Furthermore, the sale of co-product steam or the use of otherwise flared natural gas could change the results. 7 Compared to gasoline vehicles, this would reduce diesel’s carbon benefits to 15–20 percent, rather than the 30–35 percent achievable with the best diesel en- gines available today.

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FIGURE 4

Carbon Dioxide Emissions from the Production, Distribution, and End Use of Fuels (grams of CO 2 per Btu consumed)

and End Use of Fuels (grams of CO 2 per Btu consumed) Notes: 1. Source: based

Notes:

1. Source: based on modeling runs of GREET1.4 (Wang 1998) for CO 2 only

2. Tailpipe emissions are from the combustion of fuels in the end-use vehicle’s engine

3. Upstream emissions include the production and distribution of fuels

4. Reformulated gasoline refers to federal RFGII

5. Net tailpipe emissions for biodiesel are near zero to take credit for carbon taken from the atmosphere by the fuel’s feedstock.

biodiesel fuels manufactured from agricultural feed- stocks would reduce carbon emissions by three- fourths.

Potential Carbon Savings. The widespread intro- duction of higher-efficiency diesel engines into the US passenger vehicle market has the potential to de- liver important carbon savings. In the absence of higher fuel economy standards or a major fuel price increase, however, per-vehicle efficiency gains do not yield fleetwide fuel economy benefits per se. Over the past decade, engine and drivetrain efficiency im- provements have translated into performance and weight gains rather than actual on-road fuel effi- ciency improvements. 8

8 For example, passenger car weight has increased 8 percent on average over the past decade while 0–60 acceleration time has improved 19 percent and fuel economy has remained stagnant. Light truck weight has increased 15 percent on average while acceleration has improved 17 percent. (Heavenrich and Hellman

1996).

Assuming that increasing diesel sales yield actual on-road fuel efficiency gains, the total fleetwide car- bon savings are limited by several additional factors:

(a) the speed of market entry, (b) the efficiency pen- alty associated with engine modifications or after- treatment devices needed to meet air quality targets, and (c) the carbon content of the diesel fuel used. Figure 5 illustrates one potential pathway for dieseli- zation, in which diesel passenger vehicle sales in- crease from 3 percent in 2001 to 50 percent by 2010 (and constant thereafter). This represents an ex- tremely aggressive scenario, in which diesel would overtake the passenger vehicle market more than two times faster than occurred in France, which has one of the most heavily dieselized car markets. 9 If conventional diesel is used in this new diesel fleet, passenger vehicle carbon emissions would be 4 percent lower than in the base case by 2010 and

9 France’s fuel prices are also 2.4 to 3 times higher than those in the United States (Davis 1998).

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FIGURE 5

Diesel Passenger Vehicle Market Introduction Rate

FIGURE 5 Diesel Passenger Vehicle Market Introduction Rate Source: France (Wang et al. 1997)

Source: France (Wang et al. 1997)

12 percent lower by 2020. 10 If a cleaner diesel is required, such as Fischer-Tropsch diesel, carbon benefits may be substantially attenuated (Figure 6). Passenger vehicle carbon emissions must be reduced by over 30 percent in 2010 to return to pre-1990 lev- els and meet the targets established in the Kyoto

FIGURE 6

US Passenger Vehicle Carbon Emissions Relative to 1990 Baseline a,b,c

Carbon Emissions Relative to 1990 Baseline a , b , c a. Full fuel cycle carbon

Carbon Emissions Relative to 1990 Baseline a , b , c a. Full fuel cycle carbon

Carbon Emissions Relative to 1990 Baseline a , b , c a. Full fuel cycle carbon

a.

Full fuel cycle carbon emissions calculated using UCS in-house

national vehicle stock model calibrated to the Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook 1999 (EIA 1998). Carbon

coefficients from Wang (1998) for gasoline (base case), 100%

Fischer-Tropsch diesel, and conventional diesel (base diesel).

b.

Diesel vehicles (cars + light trucks) are assumed to be 35% more

efficient than base gasoline passenger vehicles, per DOE’s light truck efficiency goal (OHVT 1997).

10

Higher diesel vehicle efficiency is assumed to directly translate

c.

For comparison, equivalent carbon emission savings

into real-world fuel economy gains, rather than increased weight or

could be achieved in 2010 by improving new gasoline

power.

passenger vehicle fuel economy less than 2 percent an- nually beginning in 2001.

Protocol. Thus, additional measures and alternative pathways will be required for the transportation sec- tor (UCS 1998).

As with fuel use, heavy vehicles and nonroad equip- ment account for the majority of existing diesel pol- lution, rather than the relatively few diesel-powered passenger vehicles on the road today. If diesel en- gines were to capture a large share of the car and light truck market, however, the impact of diesel engines could increase. Critically important is how the envi- ronmental performance of diesel passenger vehicles would compare with that of the displaced gasoline vehicles.

Health Effects. Collectively, diesel-powered vehi- cles account for nearly three-quarters of all direct particulates (PM) from US transportation and over half of all nitrogen oxides (NO x )—a precursor to both smog and fine particles (EPA 1998a). 11 In urban centers, where exposure to diesel exhaust may be es- pecially high, diesel engines can be a dominant source of particulates (Walsh 1997). Furthermore, diesel exhaust is increasingly being scrutinized as a potential human carcinogen. Diesel vehicles offer clear benefits for one key pollutant, carbon monoxide (CO). Although prob- lems persist in some urban regions, roughly three times more US citizens live in areas not currently meeting the federal ozone standards than in areas not attaining CO standards (EPA 1999). Thus, while CO continues to be an important motor vehicle pollutant, this analysis focuses on the more significant hazards of urban ozone, particulates, and toxics. Urban Ozone. NO x and hydrocarbon emissions from motor vehicles contribute to ozone (smog), the major ingredient in the smog engulfing major cities. High up in the stratosphere, ozone shields us from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Yet at ground level, ozone irritates the respiratory system, causing

11 The NO x estimates from diesel highway vehicles is likely to increase as new information regarding high emissions during highway operation (Walsh 1998) is incorporated into official inventories. In addition, new information about high PM emissions from malfunc- tioning gasoline vehicles (Cadle et al. 1998) may affect future estimates of PM inventories.

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coughing, choking, and reduced lung capacity. Urban ozone pollution has been linked to increased hospital admissions for respiratory problems such as asthma and daily mortality, even at levels below the current standard (ATS 1996). Some early studies suggest that long-term exposure to ozone may yield chronic, irreversible impacts on lung function (Tashkin et al. 1994). More recent work has tended to support this conclusion in preliminary studies (Kunzli et al. 1997). Particulates. Motor vehicles create particulate matter pollution by emitting combustion particles di- rectly to the air and by releasing pollutants, notably NO x and hydrocarbons, that form secondary particles in the atmosphere. 12 Particulates irritate the eyes and nose and aggravate respiratory problems. Children, the elderly, people with pre-existing heart or lung disease, and asthmatics are particularly at risk from exposure to particulates (EPA 1997a). Fine particulates, those less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM 2.5 ), 13 have also been directly associated with an increased risk of premature death (EPA 1996a; ATS 1996). In one recent study, researchers followed more than 8,000 people in six different lo- cations for 17 years. They found that the risk of pre- mature death in areas with high levels of fine parti- cles was 26 percent greater than in areas with lower levels (Dockery et al. 1993). Based on extrapolations from a larger study of premature mortality and par- ticulates, EPA estimates that its new health standards for PM 2.5 will save 15,000 lives each year (EPA

1997a).

At present, the specific mechanism by which fine particulates increases mortality risk is unknown (EPA 1996a). As a result, while regulations are based on the total mass of particulates less than 10 or 2.5 mi- crons (see Table 2), other characteristics such as par- ticle size, surface area, number, chemical composi- tion, or physical shape might also be important (Sawyer and Costantini 1997). As a result, control strategies focused solely on reducing the mass of par-

12 Motor vehicles are also responsible for particulate pollution from road dust that they kick up and from tire and brake wear. While an important part of the total particulate inventory, these sources are generally inde- pendent of engine type and are much larger particles than combustion byproducts. 13 A micron, or micrometer, is one-millionth of a meter. The average human hair is about 100 microns thick.

TABLE 2

Diesel Particulates: Size

Size

Size

Description

Range a

Also known as:

Nanoparticles

0–0.05 m b 0.05–0.1 m 0.1–2.5 m 2.5–10 m

Nuclei Mode

Ultrafine

Nuclei Mode

Fine

Accumulation Mode

PM-10

Coarse Mode

a. Size range based on particulate areodynamic diameter.

b. A micron or micrometer (

m), is one-millionth of a meter

(1/10 6 meters). The average human hair is about 100 mi-

crons thick.

Source: Kittleson 1998

ticulates may not proportionally reduce public health risks. In fact, emerging evidence indicates that his- toric efforts to reduce PM 10 mass from diesel engines have significantly increased the number of ultrafine particles (those less than 0.1 microns) (Bagley et al. 1996; Walsh 1998; HEI 1997). Smaller particles more readily evade the body’s physical defenses, penetrating further into the lungs, and are theorized to cause more health damage (EPA 1996b; ATS 1996). Carcinogenesis. In addition to its contribution to mainstream air pollution problems, major public health agencies also consider diesel exhaust a poten- tial human carcinogen (Table 3). While diesel ex- haust contains over 40 compounds thought to cause cancer (CalEPA 1998a), most public health studies of diesel exhaust have focused on the aggregate emis- sions rather than on specific compounds. In its recent ruling, however, the California Air Resources Board voted to list only diesel exhaust particulates as a toxic, rather than whole diesel exhaust, which con- tains both particulates and vapor-phase emissions (CARB 1998b). Studies of humans routinely exposed to diesel exhaust indicate a greater risk of lung cancer. For ex- ample, occupational health studies of railroad, dock, trucking, and bus garage workers exposed to high levels of diesel exhaust over many years consistently demonstrate a 20–50 percent increase in the risk of lung cancer or mortality (HEI 1995; Bhatia et al.

1998).

Even at the average rates of exposure experienced by most people, diesel exhaust poses a potential can- cer risk. Extrapolating from epidemiological studies,

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TABLE 3

Cancer Risk Assessments of Diesel Exhaust

Organization

Year

Conclusion

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health International Agency for Research on Cancer (World Health Org.) State of California US Environmental Protection Agency (Draft) California EPA (Staff Recommendation) California Air Resources Board

1988

potential occupational carcinogen probable human carcinogen known to cause cancer “highly likely” human carcinogen “may cause an increase in the likelihood of cancer” diesel particulate emissions are toxic air contaminant

1989

1990

1998

1998

1998

Sources NIOSH and IARC: HEI 1995, p.19 State of California: listing under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65). US EPA: EPA 1998b, p.12–29 Cal EPA: CalEPA 1998a, p. ES-27 CARB: CARB 1998b

at current exposure levels it is estimated that up to 450 of every million Californians are at risk of con- tracting lung cancer as a result of lifetime exposure to diesel exhaust, or over 14,000 residents. 14

Diesel Exhaust vs. Gasoline Exhaust. Because emissions from motor vehicles continue to improve in response to new standards, it is difficult to develop an absolute picture of diesel vs. gasoline vehicle emis- sions. In addition to technology improvements, emis- sion measurement techniques continue to evolve, and emerging public health information is pointing re- searchers to evaluate new exhaust constituents. Us- ing a combination of measured in-use, certification testing, and modeled emissions, however, a snapshot of today’s best gasoline and diesel technology can be constructed. Urban Ozone Precursors Nitrogen Oxides. Diesel passenger vehicles re- cently certified in the United States have achieved NO x emissions of 0.6–0.9 g/mi (EPA 1997b, CARB 1997). Many gasoline cars being sold today have NO x certification levels less than half the diesel values, and some are certifying at less than one tenth diesel levels (CARB 1997).

14 The independent Scientific Review Panel of the Cali- fornia EPA has proposed a reasonable estimate of can- cer risk from diesel exhaust to be 0.0003 for every mi- crogram of diesel exhaust per cubic meter of air (3 x 10 -

4 ( g/m 3 ) -1 ) (CalEPA 1998b). The current average expo-

sure rate is 1.5 risk of 4.5 x 10 -4 .

g/m 3 , resulting in an average lifetime

While gasoline vehicles may certify to relatively low NO x standards, they will typically emit several times those values in the real world as they age. Die- sel passenger vehicles have not been studied as exten- sively, but their emissions are thought to degrade less than gasoline cars because they do not currently use catalytic converters to control emissions (Fairbanks 1997). This conclusion may change if exhaust con- trol technologies are installed on diesel vehicles in the future. Emissions modeling suggests that lifetime aver- age NO x emissions from diesel vehicles are roughly twice that of gasoline cars being sold in some states by 1999 and the rest of the country by 2001 (Table 4). These results must be viewed with caution, however, because the EPA model used to construct these esti- mates is based on relatively little diesel vehicle emis- sions data. Hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons are the other key precursor to urban ozone. During the early 1990s, vehicle regulations focused aggressively on lowering hydrocarbon emissions as the chief ozone-reduction strategy. In recent years, the focus of new vehicle regulations aimed at ozone reduction has shifted more to NO x reductions. Nonetheless, diesel cars typically yield lower emissions of hydrocarbons than gasoline vehicles. This is due in large part to the fact that diesel fuel does not evaporate as readily as gasoline. However, hydrocarbon emissions from gasoline vehicles are expected to be cut to near-diesel levels as NLEV ve- hicles are introduced (Table 4).

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TABLE 4

Modeled Lifetime Average Emissions from Diesel vs. Gasoline Vehicles (g/mi) a,b

 

HC c

CO

NO x

Diesel Car

0.40

1.09

1.10

Gasoline Car NLEV base case d NLEV no I/M e

0.30

2.35

0.41

0.51

4.11

0.57

a. Based on model runs of MOBILE5b (14-Sep-96) using guid- ance memo for NLEV emissions analysis (July 1998). Runs are based on mileage-weighted average values for a fleet of vehicles all meeting the same emission standard in calendar year 2020. Emissions over the urban driving cycle (19.6 mph average speed) were combined with emissions over the highway driving cycle (48.2 mph average speed) using a 55/45 split.

b. Modeled values are adjusted post-hoc to account for planned changes to the MOBILE model that adjust for new emission deterioration rates, off-cycle emissions, fuel effects, and fleet characteristics per EPA (1998c).

c. Includes tailpipe+evaporative emissions.

d. Base case includes National Low Emission Vehicle (NLEV) program vehicles, Federal Phase 2 reformulated gasoline (6.7 psi), and inspection/maintenance program per LEV program credit guidance.

e. No inspection/maintenance program assumed.

Particulates Direct Particulates.

Recent data indicates that

diesels emit at least 10 and perhaps as much as 300 times more PM mass than properly operating modern gasoline vehicles (Table 5). Many factors—such as vehicle age, condition, temperature, and driving cy- cle—can impact these vehicle-to-vehicle compari- sons. For example, gasoline cars that are malfunc- tioning can increase PM emissions by a factor of 100. But even emissions from malfunctioning gasoline cars appear to be several times lower than from diesel vehicles. There may also be key differences in the size distribution of particulates emitted by diesel versus gasoline vehicles, although research has only recently turned to such comparisons. These studies indicate that diesel engines emit larger numbers of smaller

particles. 15 For example, Walsh (1998) presents re- sults from a UK study indicating that current indirect injection diesel technology emits nanoparticles and

15 Additional study of this issue is needed, as some con- cerns about techniques for sampling such small parti- cles persist.

TABLE 5

Measured PM Emissions from Properly Operating a Gasoline Vehicles vs. Diesel Vehicles

Study

Average

(g/mi)

Gasoline

Environmental Research Council b Coordinating Research Council summer c Coordinating Research Council winter d Cadle 1996 e

0.001

0.00282

0.00351

0.005

Diesel

Coordinating Research Council summer c Coordinating Research Council winter d Certification Values f

0.811

0.460

0.04–0.06

a. Gasoline vehicle PM emissions for “smokers” can be 100 times that of properly operating modern vehicles (Cadle 1997; Cadle et al. 1998).

b. The ERC Study conducted by the Big 3 using late-model, high-production vehicles in both low and high mileage using California Phase II reformulated gasoline. Range: 0.0006– 0.0016 g/mi. Source: Cadle 1997, p.451.

c. The CRC Project data for 20 vehicles from model years 1991–1996 in Denver summer testing (no oxygenates). 10 diesel vehicles were tested from model years 1980–1994. Source: Cadle et al. 1998, p.ii. Range: 0.0011–0.0096 g/mi. Source: Cadle 1997, p.455.

d. See footnote c. 10 gasoline and 12 diesel vehicles were tested during the winter. Tests were completed indoors; out- door tests revealed average PM emissions of 0.025 g/mi for the gasoline vehicles.

e. Source: HEI 1997, p.15

f. Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Re- sources Board certification data for 1997 and 1998 model year vehicles. Sources: EPA 1997; CARB 1997, p.8.

ultrafines at perhaps 100 times the rate of modern gasoline cars over European driving cycles. More recently, the British oil research consortium CONCAWE tested modern direct injection diesel and conventional gasoline-powered passenger vehicles (Hall et al. 1998). At high speeds, the researchers demonstrated that gasoline vehicles emit roughly the same number of ultrafine particles as the diesels tested and that a higher percentage of gasoline par- ticulates fall into the smaller size ranges. However, their most significant result is that—over the Euro- pean driving cycles—diesel cars emitted 10–100 times more nanoparticles and ultrafines than modern gasoline vehicles equipped with catalytic converters. Secondary Particulates. The higher NO x emis- sions of diesel vehicles may yield higher levels of ni- trates, an acid aerosol that is an important component

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of particulate pollution, especially in the Western United States. 16 In the case of hydrocarbons, the specific chemical composition of the emissions is likely to be important in determining the contribution of diesel or gasoline exhaust to secondary particle formation. It is cur- rently unclear how important motor vehicle-related hydrocarbons are as a secondary particulate source. Since diesel vehicles emit fewer hydrocarbons than gasoline cars, hydrocarbon-related secondary par- ticulate formation may well be lower. Toxics. Comprehensive and detailed compari- sons of the carcinogenic properties of diesel exhaust versus gasoline exhaust have not been made, but early evaluations suggest that important differences may exist. For example, the International Agency for Re- search on Cancer has classified diesel engine exhaust as “probably carcinogenic” but assigned gasoline ex- haust a lower risk of “possibly carcinogenic” (IARC

1989).

More detailed and recent research into gasoline has focused on specific toxic compounds, such as benzene or 1,3 butadiene, rather than whole gasoline exhaust. 17 Current evidence suggests that diesel ex- haust is more potent than these individual toxic con- stituents (as measured by its unit risk); however, a complete risk assessment would need to compare public exposure to these compounds as well as their potency relative to diesel (Table 6).

Emission Regulations. Today’s diesel passenger vehicles are allowed to emit more of two key pollut- ants, nitrogen oxides (NO x ) and particulate matter (PM), than their gasoline counterparts under existing regulations, the Federal “Tier 1” standards (Table 7). This loophole is largest for diesel automobiles and some small pickups and sport-utility vehicles, for which NO x standards are over two times higher than for gasoline cars. Although gasoline vehicles are not required to meet a PM standard, their emissions are

16 Nearly 16 percent of PM

the Western U.S. (EPA 1996b). In a more recent study of the Denver metropolitan area, ammonium nitrate

accounted for roughly one-quarter of urban area PM 2.5

and almost half of PM

the winter (Watson et al. 1998) 17 Many of these compounds are also found in diesel exhaust.

is thought to be nitrate in

2.5

in non-urban regions during

2.5

TABLE 6

Cancer Potency of Diesel Exhaust vs. Gasoline Exhaust Constituents

Compound

Unit Risk a ( g/m 3 ) -1

Range ( g/m 3 ) -1

Diesel Exhaust

3 x 10 -4 1.7 x 10 -4 2.9 x 10 -5 6.0 x 10 -6 2.7 x 10 -6

1.3 x 10 -4 to 2.4 x 10 -3 4.4 x 10 -6 to 3.6 x 10 -4 7.5 x 10 -6 to 5.3 x 10 -5 2.5 x 10 -7 to 3.3 x 10 -5 9.7 x 10 -7 to 2.7 x 10 -5

1,3 Butadiene

Benzene

Formaldehyde

Acetaldehyde

a. Unit risk refers to the upper bound risk of contracting cancer over a human lifetime at a standard concentration of toxic material (one microgram of toxic per cubic meter of air). Source: CalEPA 1998b, p.7 (Appendix II)

typically 16 times lower than the PM standards for diesel cars. National Low Emission Vehicle (NLEV). Be- ginning in 1999 in the Northeast and 2001 elsewhere, new standards are coming on line that lower emis- sions from cars and light trucks up through 6,000 pounds gross vehicle weight (GVW). These stan- dards do not affect heavier light trucks, nor do they eliminate the ability to sell Tier 1 vehicles (for which diesel waivers exist). 18 New California Standards (LEV II). In Califor- nia, regulators have recently adopted new standards for 2004 and beyond called the Low-Emission Vehi- cle II (LEV II) program. California’s LEV II estab- lishes tighter standards for all passenger vehicles and removes loopholes that currently (a) permit light trucks to emit more than automobiles and (b) allow diesel vehicles to emit more pollution than gasoline cars. Under LEV II, diesel passenger cars and light trucks up through 8,500 gross vehicle weight (GVW) sold in California must meet the gasoline automobile standards. New Federal Standards (Tier 2). Some states may choose to opt into the California LEV II emis- sions program. For the remaining states, federal emission standards will apply. “Tier 2” standards are now under development and could come into effect as early as model year 2004. In addition to requiring

emission reductions from all passenger vehicles, the

18 However, sales of vehicles dirtier than the average NLEV requirement (such as diesel Tier 1 vehicles) would have to be offset by cleaner vehicles elsewhere in the fleet.

10Diesel Passenger Vehicles and the Environment

10 Diesel Passenger Vehicles and the Environment U n i o n o f C o

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TABLE 7

Passenger Vehicle Emission Standards and Research Goals (grams/mile @ 100,000 miles)

Vehicles 6000 lbs GVW a

Vehicles 6,001–8,500 lbs GVW

Cars, Light Trucks 3750 lbs LVW b

Light Trucks >3750 lbs LVW

Light Trucks 5750 lbs LVW

Light Trucks >5750 lbs LVW

 

NO x

PM

NO x

PM

NO x

PM

NO x

PM

Federal Tier 1 Standard (through 2003)

 

gasoline

0.6

--- c

0.97

---

0.98

---

1.53

---

diesel

1.25

0.10

0.97

0.10

0.98

0.10

1.53

0.12

National LEV Standard (1999/2001+)

 

gasoline

0.3

---

0.5

---

diesel

0.3

0.08

0.5

0.10

California LEVII Standard (phase in 2004–2006) d

 

LEV, ULEV

0.07

0.01

0.07

0.01

0.07

0.01

0.07

0.01

SULEV

0.02

0.01

0.02

0.01

0.02

0.01

0.02

0.01

PNGV Research Goal original goals “stretch objective”

0.2

0.04

0.2

0.01

DOE Research Goal e diesel

0.5

0.04

0.5

0.04

0.5

0.04

0.5

0.04

a. Gross vehicle weight, which includes the vehicle curb weight plus full payload.

b. Loaded vehicle weight, which includes the curb weight plus 300 pounds (lbs.).

c. Gasoline vehicles are not subject to a PM standard, but data suggests values are 0.005 g/mi (Table 5)

d. Standard at 120,000 miles. Applies to all vehicles, gasoline or diesel. 4% of vehicles are allowed to emit 0.1 g/mi of NO x at 120,000 miles.

e. Based on DOE (1997); goals may change.

Tier 2 standards may also close the historic loophole that has permitted diesel vehicles to emit more of some pollutants. As in California, the federal Tier 2 standards could therefore require major reductions in diesel passenger vehicle emissions.

Research Targets. While many of these new standards will come on line within the next five years, federal research into both diesel automobiles and light trucks continues to focus on less stringent emis- sion targets. While federal research targets may be subject to change, the current official goals for diesel passenger cars (PNGV) and light trucks (the Light Truck Clean Diesel program) are 3–7 times higher than California’s new emissions standards (Table 7).

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(Table 7). U n i o n o f C o n c e r n