The world operating without Diesel Fuel

The use of diesel is becoming a hot topic in Europe currently, and we’re not talking about hot product supplied direct from a refinery! The use of diesel fuel is becoming outlawed by Governments in the expectation that modern scientists can come up with a carbon neutral solution to power a heavy goods vehicle on its travels. The electric car is here with us now and their range varies massively depending on the type of travel undertaken and the size of the battery employed.

What would happen if the world operated with battery powered lorries today?

For now, let’s forget how much CO2 is generated to make these batteries but concentrate on the impact on time if HGVs all move to battery power. A 5-axle articulated truck takes around 20 minutes to refuel currently, an electric recharge will be double this time. If all vehicles are going to take twice as long to recharge as they take to fill now, where is the extra space coming from to accommodate these ‘parked’ vehicles on the highway forecourts?

As we approach the end of 2021 the UK is witnessing huge panic buying of fuel at the pumps because we have a dearth of truck drivers, and the impact of the queuing is a disruption on the highway as there are more vehicles than free pumps. If we assume that all electric vehicles will take twice as long to recharge as they take to refuel now, then the impact is the same. We will have queues as the charging stations will be in use for twice the time and as the e-vehicles travel half the distance of a traditional vehicle on a full charge the vehicles will be requiring a refuel twice as often.

In short, twice as often and taking twice as long = 4x as much actual time spent recharging than refilling a vehicle! This could generate queuing on the forecourts and on the roads causing huge disruption.

The effect on Internal Combustion Engines

For the vehicles still using an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) standing still on the highway, waiting to get to a pump just wastes fuel and increases the emissions that are going to the atmosphere. Can you spot the irony here? Inadvertently, the E-vehicles can indirectly increase the emissions per ICE-powered vehicle being emitted from the tailpipe.

The power and thrust behind a diesel engine

If you are a habitual trailer or caravan puller then start to think now about how you will do this in the post-ICE world? Diesel engines deliver high torque levels, perfect for pulling the weight of the trailer or the caravan but how will the electric vehicle manage this? Heavy duty diggers are another interesting set of machinery. Electric diggers have been around since 2018 and they have the same power as a diesel version; the issue is the batteries need to be recharged after around 2 hours of heavy use and the recharge time can be up to 8 hours from a generator! Not exactly ideal for a busy construction site!

Diesel Advancements

Advances in engine designs over the years have greatly improved the performance of the diesel engine. In our lifetime we have seen diesel transition from slow moving trucks to super-fast and super reliable road cars. The use of good quality fuel and good quality lubricants is a massive aid on the journey to make fossil fuels carbon neutral.

There are many sceptics in the world who maintain that all oil of the same viscosity is the same and that all diesel additives are the same and they make no difference. What the sceptics are not interested in learning is the testing of the oils and the process additives must undertake to be approved. A Euro VI engine delivers far less harmful emissions than previous models but to achieve the Euro VI standards the vehicle must be serviced on-time using an approved oil and must use fuel that is treated beyond the minimum EN 590 standards. Basic fuel alone is not actually good enough to deliver the EURO VI standard for emissions.

A very real challenge facing the trucking community is knowing what fuel to buy and how to maintain an effective fuel regime when the truck is far from its base depot. (See our article on “How much fuel additive do you need for your fleet?”)

When out working the majority of HGV trucks are re-filled in bunker sites as the diesel will be cheaper and the location of the bunker fuel pumps is better suited to the 44-tonne truck than to a small passenger car. The simplest solution is to administer fuel additives at the depots only. A large fleet will almost certainly order a tanker of fuel with approximately 35,000 litres of diesel and this will be stored in its own tank on site. It is relatively simple to add our diesel additive direct to the tank and if the trucks are filled up whenever they are at the base from this tank there should be enough additive to ensure the fuel achieves EURO VI standards. One drum of diesel additive from Shrieve can serve over 30 full tankers at 35,000 Litres per tanker!


Final Thoughts

Am I naïve enough to suggest the diesel emissions today are carbon neutral? No, they are just light years better than they were when I passed my driving test. Personally, I believe that users of carbon-based fuels should fund a mandatory purchase of trees or mussels via the fuel purchase! Seemingly mussels absorb CO2, who knew? There will be many other ways to ‘eat’ CO2 the public is just not aware of them. If carbon fuels were mandated to fund mussel farms or tree-planting realistically the combustion engine could run in a carbon neutral manner.

So, to answer my own question, I believe it is a rhetorical question and the correct question is, why would we want to operate without diesel until a sensible alternative is available?

See our fuel additive products here:


Written by:

Ian Bennett, Business Development Manager, Shrieve Products International Ltd.