For those of us who love the environment and want to protect it, the thought of shipping our car on the back of a semi-truck from one side of the country to the other is almost cringe worthy. An eighteen wheeler gets on average between four and eight miles per gallon. Considering that hundreds, even thousands of semi-trucks are used every day for long haul shipping, the environmental implications of this poor fuel efficiency are huge.
Green Shipping with Biodiesel
Biodiesel is a cleaner burning version of diesel fuel. Biodiesel, like regular diesel, is able to be used in any normal diesel engine with little or no modifications necessary. Biodiesel has been around for at least the past few decades, but until recently it hasn’t been viewed as a widely accepted or viable fuel source. Unlike regular diesel produced from crude oil, biodiesel is produced from a chemical reaction between alcohol and vegetable oil or animal fat. The resulting liquid is able to be mixed, at any percentage, with regular diesel, offering an immediate environmental benefit to any common semi-truck. Additionally, it reduces net CO₂ emissions by 78% compared to petroleum diesel.
Since biodiesel makes use of vegetable oil and animal fat it doesn’t contain any petroleum. Which is good for the environment and the economy since it’s able to be produced domestically. According to the EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standards Program Regulatory Impact Analysis, released in February 2010, “biodiesel produced from soy oil results in an average 57% reduction in greenhouse gases while biodiesel from waste grease results in an 86% reduction.” These reductions on environmental impact are large for a single truck, but even larger when you take into consideration the sheer number of semi-trucks on the move every day.
While the use of biodiesel can also result in the reduction of deforestation and pollution it may also result in a lower cost-per-mile for truckers. In some areas biodiesel is less expensive than petroleum based diesel. But the biggest savings for truckers comes in the form of tax incentives and government subsidized fuel programs. As biodiesel becomes more widely available, local and regional governments begin offering these programs to reward truckers who make the switch from regular diesel to biodiesel.
Hybrid trucks are used to offset the environmental impact of an eighteen wheeler even further by some companies. A hybrid truck, for those who don’t know, is a truck that utilizes both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor to power the truck. This combination of fuel and electricity helps to reduce the amount of fuel a truck must consume to gain momentum, maintain its speed, and travel the same number of miles. Since the electric motor is utilized more heavily in low speed, constant braking driving, the fuel savings are even higher for truck owners who do a lot of local auto transport.
With a 5-10% reduction in fuel consumption, the average savings for a typical long haul trucker is anywhere between 8,000-$10,000 per truck, per year. Coupled with a lesser impact on the environment, the use of hybrid trucks begins to make a lot more sense. Although hybrid trucks have been around since 2007 they’ve become more widely accepted as a cost effective, environmentally friendly alternative to regular, fuel only powered trucks. Like regular trucks, hybrid trucks are capable of running on a mixture of biodiesel and petroleum diesel, resulting in an even more environmentally friendly, efficient, and cost effective transport for your car.
It’s important to note that the savings incurred by trucking companies who employ hybrid trucks and biodiesels in their fleets may or may not be passed onto their customers; they’ll certainly pass less pollution into the environment as a result of your choice!