Diesel and heavy fuel oils have been in use for over 100 years. They provide 80% of the energy used in land and maritime transportation as well as being important in power generation, industry and mining. They provide energy for engines, gas and steam turbines, boilers, boats, cargo ships, cruise liners, freight vessels, trains, trucks, cars, tractors, bulldozers and cranes as well as heating homes, hospitals and universities. But even as fuel oils have become vital to our civilization their cost has increased. The price of fuel has risen dramatically especially in the last 20 years, despite increased production. And although we have seen some decrease in price recently, it is generally believed that this will be temporary.
Stricter emission standards are requiring petroleum users to employ expensive technologies and methods to reduce emissions.
Most oil-using engines are inefficient, as the consumer energy center noted.
Energy Losses in a Vehicle
Only about 15 percent of the energy from the fuel you put in your tank gets used to move your car down the road or run useful accessories, such as air conditioning. The rest of the energy is lost to engine and driveline inefficiencies and idling. Therefore, the potential to improve fuel efficiency with advanced technologies is enormous.
Engine Losses – 62.4 percent
In gasoline-powered vehicles, over 62 percent of the fuel’s energy is lost in the internal combustion engine (ICE). ICE engines are very inefficient at converting the fuel’s chemical energy to mechanical energy, losing energy to engine friction, pumping air into and out of the engine, and wasted heat.
Advanced engine technologies such as variable valve timing and lift, turbocharging, direct fuel injection, and cylinder deactivation can be used to reduce these losses.
In addition, diesels are about 30-35 percent more efficient than gasoline engines, and new advances in diesel technologies and fuels are making these vehicles more attractive.
By 2015, the global demand for oil and gas will exceed available production, according to a 2011 report by Shell Oil. While a number of alternative energy sources are being developed, the reality is that there is no near-term “silver bullet” that will completely resolve supply-demand tensions. The world’s demand for diesel will increase from 787 million gallons per day in 2010 to 1,500 million gallons per day by 2030.
Increased demand is based primarily on key transport and industrial uses, as well as an increased affinity for diesel vehicles in developing countries. Our dependence on petroleum for fueling the transportation sector threatens energy security, affects our environment, and weakens economies.
Today, increasing concerns over greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on imported oil are driving significant changes in the petroleum industry and those sectors that rely on petroleum products. Global demand for transportation fuels – particularly new, cleaner, low-sulfur distillate fuels like diesel – is stimulating competition for oil reserves and leading to oil market volatility.
Diesel fuel is the world’s transportation fuel workhorse and a primary driver behind global economic expansion. Because of its unmatched power density, energy efficiency and widespread availability, diesel serves as the primary commercial transportation fuel used for movement of goods and people by road, rail and water. It powers the majority of industrial construction, agricultural and mining equipment on a global basis.
Diesel is part of a broader class of middle distillates (which include residential, commercial and industrial heating oil) that make up 29% of the global market for refined products. Demand for distillate fuels has grown faster than any other refined petroleum product and will continue to lead other products in future growth.
Diesel is the primary fuel for heavy duty on-road commercial transportation, non-road construction, agricultural machines, stationary source backup power, railroads, inland marine and various types of ocean vessels. It also plays a significant role in light duty commercial and public transportation as well as a growing role in the light duty passenger vehicle market. Diesel fuel is part of a broader class of refined petroleum products referred to as middle distillates, which is lighter and less dense than heavy industrial fuel and international marine bunker, but heavier and denser than gasoline.
In addition to diesel fuel, middle distillates include residential and commercial heating oil (also designated as Number 2 heating oil), industrial boiler fuel, utility supplemental fuel utilized in small generation facilities, and kerosene.
Fuel oil is a fraction obtained from petroleum distillation, either as a distillate or a residue. The term fuel oil also is used in a stricter sense to refer to the heavier commercial fuel that can be obtained from crude oil.
Residual fuel oil has to be heated with a special heating system before use, and it contains relatively high amounts of pollutants, particularly sulfur, which forms sulfur dioxide upon combustion. It is the cheapest liquid fuel available. Power plants and large ships are able to use residual fuel oil. Residual fuel oil demand will remain around 700 million tons a year until 2025 with consumption in power production falling due to stricter environmental regulations and consumption as marine bunker fuel compensating for the shortfall due to increased marine traffic and the economic incentive of bunker prices, even with expensive scrubbing solutions to be adopted in order to comply with ECA requirements. Purvin & Gertz 2010