It is fair to argue that the growth of the transportation industry over the last one hundred years may be the single most impactful and world-changing feat mankind has accomplished in recent history.
Practical methods of transportation have connected cities and bridged countries, making extended travel and exploration more accessible to the average individual.
From mass transit systems such as highways, public buses and airplanes, it doesn't take long for one to observe the role transportation plays in our everyday lives.
And when one looks at the transportation industry as a whole, it is hard to ignore the significance fuel plays in making it all possible.
As the mechanical abilities of the engines powering the industry developed, the regulations around the fuel refinery process grew. In recent years, with stronger legislative requirements stateside, refineries were required to meet stricter cleanliness standards.
Compounded, these changes have really put an exclamation point on the importance of fuel quality in many ways.
In relation to engine combustion, it is imperative for an engine to run on quality fuel to provide for the best mechanical operability. Effective combustion also plays a significant role in reducing exhaust emissions through achieving complete burn in the engine cylinder.
There are five main categories of vehicle emissions:
Carbon Monoxide (CO), is poisonous in high concentrations and is produced when carbon-based fuel is not burnt completely. To reduce harmful CO emissions, ensuring efficient engine combustion is crucial.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2), is an unavoidable byproduct of burning carbon-based fuel. CO2 is recognized as a main contributor to global warming, which is a big reason behind the push for switching to using alternative fuels.
Hydrocarbons (HC), are a result of unburned fuel and a contributor to smog in some climates. Breathing in HC can lead to breathing issues in humans, and as a result can be dangerous in high concentrations. HC emissions can be reduced through efficient engine combustion and thorough burning of fuel during combustion.
Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), are produced when the air around us is heated in an engine. NOx can cause breathing difficulties and also contributes to smog and acid rain.
Particulate Matter (PM), is microscopic particles that are emitted by an engine, comprising mainly of unburnt Carbon.
As you can see, the negative impact of many of the different types of harmful exhaust emissions can be reduced through optimizing the combustion process, reducing emissions relating to unburnt Carbon.
A majority of fuel today is carbon-based, with a great majority of the automobiles and machinery relying on those fuel sources. Powering numerous businesses and industries, a switch from carbon-based fuels would not only be costly, but also a logistical crisis.
Although society is at the forefront of viable alternative energy, we still have a long way to go to make it a practical and effective replacement for the carbon-based fuels which have powered mankind’s development for centuries.
Until we reach that time, it is important to make the fuel and machinery we have now as effective and efficient as possible.
This can be achieved through numerous ways, primarily from reducing fuel contaminants with fuel polishing systems and promoting proper engine combustion using fuel additives.
With recent legislature mandating emissions reductions and a reduction in sulfur content, it is fair to draw the conclusion that the federal government knows that alternative fuel is not yet practical at a large scale, and that we have to make the best of the fuels and mechanical technology we currently have at hand.