ADVERTISEMENT
See Inside March 2007

Diesels Come Clean

Improved engines and exhaust scrubbers, combined with a new fuel, willmake energy-efficient diesels nearly as green as hybrids

Swinging his truck door open, the driver obligingly steps onto the cab seat and reaches for the roof. Extending himself upward, he slings a handkerchief over the exhaust stack of his late-model diesel rig. In mere moments, black fumes begrime a section of the white square with soot. "This good?" he asks, handing down the fluttering fabric. Nodding, I thank the man and retrieve the hankie. A short stroll away from his idling truck and its fellow 18-wheelers parked in this New Jersey Turnpike rest area sits their newborn brother, a Mercedes-Benz E320 Bluetec sedan. With a turn of the key, its diesel engine springs to life. Moments later, I kneel behind the car and cover its tailpipe with an unsoiled patch of cloth. It remains nearly spotless, even after a full minute.

As the so-called handkerchief test shows, the words "clean diesel" are no longer a contradiction in terms. Diesels have long been regarded as among the dirtiest of power plants, a reputation that lingers because so many decades-old examples of this durable technology still work the roads today. But the E320 is the vanguard of a new wave of diesel cars, SUVs and pickups that release far fewer air pollutants without compromising the engine's traditionally excellent fuel economy. Powered by a 3.0-liter V-6 engine, the E320, for instance, gets 36 miles per gallon (combined) and can travel as much as 780 miles between fill-ups.

This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content


It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on nature.com.
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Rights & Permissions
Share this Article:

Comments

You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Back To School

Back to School Sale!

12 Digital Issues + 4 Years of Archive Access just $19.99

Order Now >

X

Email this Article



This function is currently unavailable

X