Topics / Soot-free transport

Soot-free transport reduces both climate and health impacts of on-road transportation. Diesel vehicles are by far the most important source of particulate matter emissions from the transport sector. Each tiny particle is different, but they are mostly composed of black carbon cores (informally, "soot") with other types of pollutants—organic carbons, metals, toxics, sulfates, and nitrates—sticking to their surface. Soot-free engines, vehicles and equipment are those that have virtually eliminated the these particles, including both the black carbon and other components, through use of diesel particulate filters or use of cleaner fuels and motors that have very low to zero emissions of particles. Ultralow sulfur diesel (10-15 ppm) is required for compliance with best-practice standards, but retrofit and interim solutions may be available with higher sulfur fuels.

  • All battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and engines, which have zero tailpipe emissions, are soot-free by definition, although further climate and overall health benefits can be achieved through use of low-carbon fuels and renewable fuels.
  • Natural gas motors also typically have much lower particle emissions than diesel vehicles and because these particles do not have the black carbon cores that define diesel soot, they are also considered soot-free. Nonetheless, natural gas vehicles meeting the best practice standards (below) will have much lower emissions of non-soot particles and other pollutants.
  • For heavy-duty vehicles, soot-free transport includes all engines that meet Euro VI norms (established in Europe) or U.S. 2010 norms (established by EPA in the United States), as well as all vehicles equipped with a diesel particulate filter.
  • For non-road vehicles and equipment, this includes all motors meeting Europe’s Stage V standards or those equipped with diesel particulate filters.

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