Cleaning up diesel engines in Minnesota

Clean diesel refers to technology and actions that can be taken to reduce emissions from diesel engines.

Use of cleaner fuels:

  • EPA standards require 2007 and newer engines to use Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD).
  • Minnesota mandates a 2% biodiesel blend that goes up to 5% in May 2009.

Replacement of older equipment with newer, cleaner vehicles:

  • New EPA standards for on-road diesel engines, combined with ULSD fuel use, mean that 2007 and newer models are 90% cleaner than older counterparts.

Example of a diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) muffler from Donaldson CompanyRetrofitting existing engines with pollution control devices:

  • Many existing diesel engines will stay on the road for years to come.
  • Exhaust system catalysts and filters can reduce diesel emissions anywhere from 30-90 percent.
  • The best diesel emission reduction "bang for the buck" is achieved by adding both a closed crankcase vent filter and a diesel oxidation catalyst muffler for about $1,700 to $2,000 total per vehicle.

Idle reduction for diesel fleets

  • Fleet owners and operators can reduce diesel emissions through behavioral changes and installation of idle control equipment.
  • One of the most common idle reduction technologies is Auxiliary Power Units, which run all the components of a cab's interior without using the main truck engine.

Why focus on diesel engines?

  • Diesels account for more than half of the harmful particulate matter emissions from vehicles. So they have a disproportionately higher level of emissions than gasoline powered cars.
  • According to the EPA, diesel emissions contain 40 toxic chemical including 15 carcinogens.
  • Diesel vehicles also last 20 years or more and may drive up to a million miles!
  • New cost effective technology is now available to reduce particulate pollution.
  • Children and elderly are especially vulnerable to health effects from diesel emissions including: asthma, breathing difficulties, chronic bronchitis, and heart problems which have the largest impact on the elderly.
  • Fine particles in diesel exhaust are also thought to cause lung cancer.
  • PDF icon Diesel Exhaust in Minnesota, What are the Health Effects, Who's at Risk and What Can You Do?
  • Impacts from diesel vehicle operations can be localized – such as idling school buses or large scale construction projects.

Diesel pollution reduction in Minnesota

There are several efforts underway in Minnesota to reduce emissions from diesel fleets:

School bus retrofits and idle reduction

  • Children face heightened exposure to diesel exhaust from the self-polluting nature of buses, and the tendency of buses to idle during loading and unloading.
  • The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is a major partner of Clean Air Minnesota’s Project Green Fleet, which works with school districts and fleet operators to reduce emissions through retrofits and idle reduction. Learn more on the School bus retrofits and idle reduction page.

Snow plow inspectionHeavy-duty diesel retrofits

  • MPCA is using Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funds to retrofit a minimum of 200 on-road diesel vehicles from public fleets in 2009.
  • Vehicles from the cities of Minneapolis and St Paul, Hennepin and Ramsey Counties and the metro-area MnDOT fleet are slated for retrofit.

Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant to Minnesota in 2009 was $1.72 million. It resulted in 60 grants going to small and large, public and private, diesel emission projects across Minnesota. The grant awards are for auxiliary power units, generator engines for refrigeration trailers, main truck engine repowers, and emission reducing retrofit equipment such as diesel oxidation catalysts and diesel particulate filters.

Auxiliary power units for long haul trucks

  • MPCA has awarded more than 60 low-interest loans to independent truckers and small trucking companies to help them purchase and install Auxiliary Power Units.
  • APUs not only reduce diesel emissions, they save truckers fuel and money.

Idling policies and ordinances

  • Several Minnesota counties and cities have internal idling policies for their transportation fleets, like Hennepin County.
  • A few cities, like Minneapolis, have passed city-wide idling ordinances that apply to all vehicles public or private, with some exemptions: HTML icon Anti-Idling Vehicle Ordinance (Minneapolis)
  • Minnesota-based truck carriers, shippers, and logistics firms are taking action to reduce idling, conserve fuel, and save money through participation in the national SmartWay program.

Diesel-related links

More information and assistance

For more information about clean diesel activities in Minnesota, contact Mark Sulzbach at 651-757-2770.