Dec 13, 2017

The diesel dilemma: Tackling climate change by doing more with existing technology

Mark Burnett
3 min
The diesel dilemma: Tackling climate change by doing more with existing technology
It's not easy being a diesel driver in today's world. Between clogged diesel particulate filters (DPFs), stricter EU directives and the highly pu...

It's not easy being a diesel driver in today's world. Between clogged diesel particulate filters (DPFs), stricter EU directives and the highly publicised Paris agreement on climate change, the future of diesel looks bleak. Here, Mark Burnett, VP of the Lubricants and Fuel Additives Innovation Platform at NCH Europe, explains how using additives can make existing diesel technology less damaging to the environment.

If you're a diesel driver, you will most likely have heard the horror stories of failed DPFs. One minute you're driving down the road in a perfectly well-maintained car and the next minute your car has gone into limp mode, leaving you with limited electronics and only one usable gear to get to the nearest service centre with.

In the worst cases, drivers have reported screeching noises coming from the DPF shortly followed by plumes of smoke from the exhaust and an explosion of soot over the engine bay.

Despite the potential hassle, DPFs play an important role in capturing harmful particulate matter (PM), or soot, and oxidising it to prevent the car from polluting the air with high levels of noxious emissions.

The latest Euro six standard, introduced in September 2015, sets limits on the amount of permitted emissions, including nitrogen oxide (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons and particulate matter.

Although it's great that the UK is taking these steps — the latest figures from the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) show an overall decline in air pollution — there is not much benefit in acting alone. Cue, the Paris accord.

Designed to tackle the wayward direction of global climate change for the next hundred years, the Paris agreement is a deal struck between nearly 200 countries.

The key elements of the agreement include: keeping global temperatures well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, limiting greenhouse gases emitted by human activity, reviewing each country's contribution every five years and rich countries helping poorer countries switch to renewable energy. It's a historic step, and one that means 2017 might well be the beginning of the end for diesel technology.

However, for many people, this change cannot come soon enough. For years, there has been a perception that diesel vehicles are more environmentally friendly than their petrol counterparts, when this simply isn't the case. Diesel cars actually produce just as much carbon dioxide as petrol and more noxious emissions.

The problem is that drivers, fleet managers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the industrial sectors have already invested heavily in diesel and it will take time to transition to cleaner alternatives.

Rather than wait for the change, OEMs in particular can do more to make their existing diesel vehicles less damaging to the environment by using fuel additives. Additives have historically been shunned because some actually reduced fuel economy instead of improving it and customers would have been better off using a more premium fuel instead.

Where additives do work is for specific tasks such as unclogging injectors, cleaning the fuel and, crucially, improving DPF performance. NCH Europe's DPF Protect additive, for example, reduces the temperature at which the DPF burns soot, from 550 degrees to 400 degrees Celsius.

Instead of waiting for the engine to get up to temperature — something that usually requires the vehicle to be driven at speeds of over 40mph for over ten minutes — the additive triggers the regenerative process by lowering the temperature at which the DPF activates, lowering the amount of dangerous particulate matter emitted into the air.

While it will still take many years for technology and legislation to bring about an overwhelming improvement in climate change, there is still more we can do in the here and now to make existing diesel technology cleaner.

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May 14, 2021

Mirico Cloud identifies emission changes

Dominic Ellis
4 min
The platform allows customers to quantify gas emissions across multiple oil and gas sites - and comes amid more scrutiny over Paris-aligned targets

Mirico is extending its gas measurement services with the launch of Mirico Cloud for the oil and gas industry.

The platform lets customers detect and quantify gas emissions across multiple oil and gas sites, and quickly fix issues causing changes in emissions. Customers can be contacted by SMS or email for alerts if a new emission is above a certain size, or about an existing known emission that has started to grow.

Customisable dashboards can show average emissions over the last 24 hours or how emissions vary by asset type.

"It's great to be able to broaden the service we provide our customers," said Dr Linda Bell, CEO of Mirico. "We really feel this is a big step forward in helping the oil & gas industry to quickly identify emission issues at scale and ultimately help them in their goals to reach net zero."

The industry remains under intense pressure to deliver on emission targets. Achieving 50% lower emissions by 2030 will require either full electrification of the West of Shetland and Central North Sea or earlier-than-expected field cessations, according to Wood Mackenzie.

In 2018 the UK produced 451 million tonnes CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e) of greenhouse gas emissions. Around 3% of this total is direct emissions from oil and gas activity on the UK Continental Shelf. Energy generation, mainly from fossil fuels,  produced 23% of emissions, and the transport industry accounted for a further 28%, mostly from the use of oil-based products.

The North Sea Transition deal has four key pillars:

  • Supply decarbonisation reduce emissions from oil and gas production by 50% by 2030
  • Carbon capture and storage (CCS) target 10 Mtpa of carbon capture by 2030
  • Hydrogen deliver 5 GW of low-carbon hydrogen capacity by 2030
  • Supply chain/people deliver investment of £14-16 billion into low-carbon technology by 2030

Methane in the spotlight, a busy 48 hours for bp and JPMorgan releases carbon reduction targets

Institutional investors with a collective $5.35 trillion in assets are calling on the Biden administration to get tougher about methane emissions as it seeks to address climate change. "Any credible pathway for the use of natural gas in a Paris-aligned future must address methane emissions," it states.

Cutting human-caused methane by 45% this decade would keep warming beneath a threshold agreed by world leaders, according to the UN Environment Programme. Such reductions would avoid nearly 0.3°C of global warming by 2045 and would be consistent with keeping the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal, to limit global temperature rises to 1.5˚C, within reach.

bp and CEMEX will work together on accelerating the ‎progress of the latter's 2050 ambition to deliver net zero CO2 concrete globally. Around 70% of global emissions come from transport, ‎industry and energy and cement making is energy intensive. Last week bp and renewable energy supplier Pure Planet forged a partnership to launch a new digital energy service that will support households, EV drivers and energy consumers in the UK.

Hot on the heels of the CEMEX announcement, bp shareholders rejected a plan that would have forced the company to strengthen its climate commitments in an AGM poll, with only 20.65% pledging support. "We will continue to engage with shareholders on our strategy, targets and aims so as to ensure their views are fully understood," it stated. One of the challenges is that there is no single metric that measures Paris consistency, according to chief executive Bernard Looney.

JPMorgan Chase yesterday released comprehensive steps it is taking in its efforts to align its financing activities with the climate goals of the Paris Agreement, publishing 2030 carbon intensity targets for the Oil & Gas, Electric Power and Auto Manufacturing sectors. It also released its new Carbon Compass methodology that describes how the firm set its targets and how it will monitor progress over time, and unveiled a Center for Carbon Transition

“There must be collective ambition and cooperation by business and government to tackle climate change,” said Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase. "Setting our Paris-aligned targets is an important step toward accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy and meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. JPMorgan Chase is committed to doing its part by working with clients around the world to reduce emissions and by ensuring our own operations remain carbon neutral."

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