Improving America’s Infrastructure with the Most Advanced and Cleanest Equipment
Hundreds of organizations honored the accomplishments and focused on the future growth of America’s national infrastructure during Infrastructure Week last month. With diesel equipment serving as the overwhelming power source for past and future infrastructure growth, Diesel Technology Forum Executive Director Allen Schaeffer noted the importance of new diesel engines and equipment in construction and that off-road equipment is now cleaner and more efficient than ever before.
“Infrastructure is the backbone of the US economy and our global competitiveness, and it’s vital we start reinvesting in its future,” he said. “It’s been over 40 years since most portions of the Interstate Highways System were completed. Since then the materials and methods for safe road building and design have advanced by leaps and bounds and so have the machines that do the work.”
Diesel engines are the workhorse of infrastructure projects. “Over two thirds of all construction machines are powered by diesel and nearly all the largest equipment has diesel as the technology of choice,” said Schaeffer. “Whether we’re talking about moving massive amounts of dirt, milling pavement, pouring concrete, trenching for cables, or laying pipe for new clean water systems, or massive cranes used for building bridges, the jobs all come back to diesel power.”
Innovation in engine technology and emissions control systems have enabled infrastructure projects to be built faster, using less fuel, and generating a fraction of the emissions from even a decade ago. “These advances will especially be important to the people living and working in the communities around these job sites,” Schaeffer noted.
One of the biggest advancements comes from the new generation of construction machines and equipment that do the work. “From bulldozers, to excavators and motor graders, the latest generation, or Tier 4, engines reflect the most advanced emissions standards for off-road equipment established by the US Environmental Protection Agency for equipment manufactured since 2014,” said Schaeffer. “Depending on the horsepower range of the machine, emissions of particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen have all been reduced by more than 90 percent. Manufacturers have taken efficiency, fuel savings and lower emissions well beyond the design of the engine to include efficiency improvement in the overall machine. Advanced engine designs, hybrid capabilities in some machines along with energy storage technologies, and even advanced telematics systems, GPS and integrated work site control systems are now deployed in new equipment and combine to yield substantial fuel savings and emission reductions.”
The adoption of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel in 2010 set in motion the path to clean diesel technology, for off-road equipment. The future use of advanced biodiesel and renewable diesel fuels will provide additional options for lowering emissions and reducing carbon footprints.
Today, roughly 850,000 diesel-powered vehicles nationwide are in use bringing supplies, materials and workers to and from U.S. construction sites. Earthmovers, bulldozers, bucket loaders, backhoes, cranes, pavers, excavators and motor graders are all essential to building and expanding infrastructure. “For most of these machines,” said Schaeffer, “there is simply no substitute for diesel power. In the construction sector 98 percent of all energy use comes from diesel. Construction accounts for 55 percent of off-road fuel use in the US.”
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