I'm not sure if Europe already uses more diesel than gasoline in cars
, maybe you have time to look for statistics and correct my impression.
The last time I checked (a year or so ago) only 40% of new cars sold in Europe used diesel. On the other hand, diesel is the most used fuel in the world
, more than gasoline and it has been in that position for a long time:
"... the world consumed 30.2 million barrels of diesel and related distillate fuels, 16 percent more than the 26.1 million barrels of gasoline in 2006" -- British Petroleum --
You have to take in account a couple of things:
1. Diesel is NOT by itself less contaminant than gas. It has a higher energy content, but it's only more efficient in terms of contamination with new forced induction engines and new higher torque engines. On the "darker" side, it produces more particulates (soot). You also have to control sulphur in oil and do something with the byproducts of filtering that sulphur: if you release them or use them, you get acid rain, because the burnt sulphur goes into the clouds and converts into sulphuric acid.
2. Besides having more unit energy, diesel is burned more efficiently, which means that you get 30% more mileage. This, in turn, implies that diesel makes easier to comply with Euro 4 norm when you look at contaminants per km or per liter.
3. Because of 1. and 2. most countries tax diesel less than gas, because they have to spend less dollars on energy imports. I think that the difference means 1 dollar difference at the pumps in Europe, but feel free to correct me.
4. The 30% difference in mileage is kind of illusory: you need 25% more oil to produce a liter of diesel than a liter of gasoline.
5. In developing countries, the "smart move" by europeans is kind of catastrophic: many countries, mine included, still use high sulfur diesel, which means that the engines developed to achieve less contamination produce more contamination than gas engines in these places (typical!) and we will see acid rain increasing in the developing world, damaging forests. Who cares? We do in Colombia, but not everybody is taking the "play with your head raised" approach of soccer, and the headlines in newspapers that claim diesel is automatically better don't help a bit.
Even with low sulphur, you have to filter soot and that's not perfect, because diesel engines produce A LOT of soot. I quote The California Air Resources Board: "... The CARB has concluded that diesel soot is responsible for 70% of the state's risk of cancer
from airborne toxics." This happens after using extremely good soot filters, so... to make a joke, we're saving the polar bears at the cost of our own emphisemas in old age...
As for energy content, I also quote the Union of Concerned Scientists:
"Making a gallon of diesel fuel requires 25% more oil and emits 17% more heat-trapping greenhouse gases than gasoline reformulated with MTBE. Similarly, diesel requires 17% more oil and emits 18% more heat-trapping gases than gasoline reformulated with ethanol. This means that diesel fuel's advantages from its higher per-gallon energy content and better performance on greenhouse gases are partially offset by the impact of diesel's fuel-production process."
The UCS, on the other hand, reports in The Diesel Dilemma: Diesel's Role in the Race for Clean Cars
that the best option is an hybrid with a diesel "prime mover"
Different governments have different incentives: Europe is pushing strict limits on vehicle CO2 emissions, which favors diesel
. Europe has easier diesel emissions limits on nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) than the U.S., but European compliance deadlines are much tighter, due to early-introduction tax incentives.
The main reason for that incentives?
A technological one: while diesel particle filters (DPFs) of 95% efficiency are commercial today
, elliminating most of the soot, a NOx catalyst of greater than 65% efficiency, capable of hitting a 0.2 gram/kilometer NOx+HC limit, is "today technically not feasible". Getting inside a 0.1 g/km NOx+HC limit will require NOx catalyzer efficiency over 80%...
which means that NOx (smog) which is higher for diesel engines, cannot be filtered. So, if you cannot do it with today's technology, the governments allow you to contaminate more.
In english: expect more smog the more diesel engines you have (and less carbon dioxide).
"For near-term Euro 4 compliance, VW expects to use a DPF for larger (100 kW +) vehicles along with a NOx reduction catalyst (over 150 kW), both requiring "sulfur free" (10 ppm sulfur) ULSD... Customers consider mainly the difference in gasoline and diesel fuel costs"
-- VW's Klaus-Peter Schindler --I don't know for how long diesel will be cheaper than gas
: "Diesel use in developed economies is growing about 2 percent this year, or 200,000 barrels a day, while gasoline use in the United States is falling for the first time since 1991, according to Merrill Lynch & Co. The trend will continue, boosting diesel's premium to gasoline by 31 percent, to more than $190 a ton in Europe by year-end,
as shown by swap contracts from broker PVM Oil International."June 11, 2008: Diesel prices outpace gas as traders bet on the spread
I conclude that the oil crunch we have at hand will impact diesel prices more than gas prices.
So, it's not such a clear case that automatically means that F1 HAS to move to diesel to diminish impact of engines on environment or on your pocket.
This is kind of a summary of gas vs diesel:
If you want to choose a vehicle, check first two resources:FuelEconomy.govEPA's Green Vehicle Guide
"Diesel and dust is what we breathe;
This land don't change and we don't leave.
Some people live, some never die;
This land don't change this land must lie.
Some people leave, always return;
This land must change or land must burn."
-- Midnight Oil, "Warakurna" --
Sorry, I got caught in the issue, I won't post that much again...