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This month marks a new beginning; the beginning of a new year, and a dawn of a new emissions age.

Effective this month, heavy-duty engine and truck makers will offer new models that comply with the additional new standards for lower emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and minimum fuel economy levels, as required by EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Truck OEMs have been chasing these standards for years, and a recent report revealed their engineering teams have caught and passed them.

A new study released by the Coordinating Research Council, in cooperation with the Health Effects Institute, found a more than 60 percent reduction in emissions of nitrogen dioxide as from clean diesel engines compared to previous 2007 models, and 99 percent reduction compared to 2004 models.

The study noted that the reductions “exceeded substantially even those levels required by law.”

Those are some fantastically positive results considering the expectations set forth for 2014 truck emissions accelerate well into the 2020s.

The study, the Advanced Collaborative Emissions Study (ACES), is a multi-party five year study to test the emissions and health effects of the new technology diesel engines to document the improvements that have been made, and to ensure there are no unintended emissions from this new technology, Diesel Technology Forum says.

This portion of the ACES study (Phase 2) builds on the findings from Phase 1 completed in 2009 that found substantially lower levels of emissions of particulate matter than anticipated; in that case 2007 engines were 99 percent lower compared to 2004 models.

So what does all that mean? It means today’s trucks are ahead of the game.

Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, says more than 11 percent of the commercial trucks and buses on the road are using the 2010 or newer generation of clean diesel technology; and more than one-third are using 2007 and newer technology.

Clean engine technologies have found a suitable partner from fuel-makers themselves. With domestically produced and clean burning natural gas the rising alternative fuel, makers of diesel have put considerable time and effort into continuously refining their blends.

In November, Shell announced the launch of its new diesel formulation, Shell Diesel FiT (Fuel injection Technology), at more than 60 Shell stations in Waco-Temple, Texas area and the Seattle, Wash. area.

Shell says Diesel FiT is well-suited for the evolving cleaner-burning diesel fuel market demand because it’s designed for use in both traditional and new ultra-clean diesel engines with advanced emission controls.

Right now, the new blend is only available in Texas and Washington, but Shell says the company will evaluate the results of the market trials and assess its next steps for the product. If the decision is made to continue with the blend, it may be rolled-out to additional select U.S. markets in a phased manner.

As emissions regulations continue to tighten, more focus will be trained in on the fuel itself. From an emissions standpoint, there’s not much more you can demand from an engine unless you reformulate the things you put into it.

For the aftermarket, opportunities abound.

Using Schaeffer’s statistics, there is a sizable number – roughly half – of trucks on the road that need emission control help from the aftermarket.

From offering testing and inspection or being aggressive in reaching out to fleets struggling with compliance, the next wave of reliable business will be in helping keep these trucks rolling legally on the road well into the 2020s and beyond.

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