Have you ever heard the phrase, “doing more with less?” Advanced diesel engines are specifically engineered to minimize fuel emissions while also achieving optimum performance through high torque and horsepower. There are thousands of applications for advanced diesel engines, from buses and trains to agricultural equipment, mining, boats, and barges—all these and more run on diesel. As global emission regulations tighten, the migration to advanced diesel engines, among other solutions, has begun in earnest.
Electric powertrains, natural gas engines, and hydrogen fuel cell engines are emerging in the market, but diesel is still going to be a fuel source for decades to come. As Tom Linebarger, former Cummins Inc. president and CEO, said in a 2021 interview, “Our view is that the tail end of diesel will be a lot longer than people expected. And that’s not because we sit around and hope for the preservation of diesel. It’s because the diesel market is so complicated.”
Consider as an example, the agriculture industry. According to the Diesel Technology Forum, 90% of agricultural products in the U.S. are moved to consumers using diesel engines, and 75% of large agricultural machines and equipment run on diesel as well. Additionally, one-fifth of the irrigation systems in the U.S. are powered by diesel.
Yes, that’s a lot of engines. It will take time to replace them one-by-one. But diesel engines have also advanced, continuing to build on the already long list of advantages. To continue the example, it would take 25 of today’s tractors to produce the same emissions as one tractor manufactured in the year 2000. It will not only take a long time for newer diesel models to wear down enough to need replacement, but as older models wear out, their owners may well choose to upgrade to the more efficient diesel options on the market today.
In this piece we will describe what you need to know about advanced diesel engines, as well as highlight some emerging diesel and emissions technologies to consider.
What are the 3 types of diesel?
The 3 types of diesel engines are classified by size. There are small, medium, and large diesel engines.
● Small diesel engines are typically either four or six-cylinder, and output 288 horsepower or less. These are found in light trucks, agriculture equipment, and construction machinery, as well as in small stationary generators like the ones aboard a pleasure craft.
● Medium diesel engines can start as small as a V-8 or V-12, but may generate as much as 1,000 horsepower. These tend to be the best diesel engine for a 4x4 truck in commercial use.
● Large diesel engines are the ones powering trains, ships, and other vehicles, as well as large stationery equipment like oil drills and generators. These engines often come fitted with components like a turbocharger, which Cummins introduced to the market in the 1950s to help diesel engines perform better no matter the altitude or air conditions.
Cummins’ powerful, reliable engines are the best on the road, on the water and at worksites across the world. Their engine lineup ranges from 2.8 to 95 liters of displacement, allowing customers to leverage Cummins’ diverse catalog of diesel engines for their specific needs. This also extends to the type of fuel customers need and want to burn.
There are three common types of diesel engine fuel:
● Diesel No. 1: This is premium fuel which is lower viscosity, meaning it runs better in an engine during cold conditions. Additives and lubricants in the fuel keep the engine cleaner, but the thinner fuel burns faster.
● Diesel No. 2: This is a thicker form of fuel which is most commonly used among diesel drivers because it is less expensive and more fuel efficient.
● Biodiesel: Biodiesel is a fuel made out of plant oils and/or animal fats. Cummins certifies many of its engines and filtration products for interchangeable use with biodiesel blends and standard diesel fuels. To successfully use biodiesel blends in a Cummins engine, the fuel must meet quality specifications, or performance will be impacted and damage to the engine will occur.
Engines are usually certified for one of these three types of diesel, though some engines may be able to use all of them.
Advanced diesel engine powertrain basics
A vehicle’s powertrain is the assembly of parts that cause the vehicle to move forward. The powertrain system includes the engine to convert the energy of combustion into motion or action. In addition, there’s the transmission, driveshaft, axles, and differential. The differential is the set of gears that transmits power to the wheels/propellers at different speeds when needed, like on a turn.
What are the types of powertrain?
There are three types of powertrains that convert the engine’s energy into motion. These are defined by the transmission of the vehicle.
1. Traditional Automatic Transmission: In a traditional automatic powertrain, the engine and wheels are always connected through a part called the torque converter. Gearsets within the assembly determine how hard and fast to shift gears up or down based on acceleration, current speed, and braking.
2. Automated manual transmission (AMT): In a manual automatic transmission, the driver can shift gears up or down at will, typically through buttons on the steering wheel or paddles. These can also still perform as automatic transmissions but give operators more control.
3. Continuously-Variable Transmission (CVT): A CVT powertrain does not have distinct gear ratios, instead achieving smooth, consistent acceleration through a transmission controller. This is the most fuel-efficient type of assembly and has become common in electric vehicles.
A powertrain is as good as its engine. In fact, without the engine in the mix, the powertrain is just called the drivetrain. So, what happens when the powertrain fails? The connection between the engine and the assembly to drive motion has been lost.
Optimizing powertrain functionality is key to maximizing the potential of diesel engines in transport applications. Here are some of the unique powertrain features Cummins is bringing to the market:
● Predictive Gear Shifting: Uses data to enhance shifting efficiency on hills.
● On-Ramp Boost: Identifies when a vehicle is on a ramp and allows more acceleration to assist in merging with other traffic.
● Predictive Braking: Uses data to better-control vehicle speed on hills.
● Dynamic Power: Adaptive power rating technology delivers improved fuel economy during easy drives and adequate performance during difficult ones.
● Hill Roll-Out: A feature which increases speed at the bottom of a hill to keep the journey going.
These innovations not only keep operators safer but also optimize fuel economy and preserve the life of the powertrain over time. It takes full integration and connected features throughout the powertrain to make the most of advanced diesel engines.
Uses for advanced diesel engines
The newest improvements in diesel engines are driving growth. These machines reduce diesel emissions to near-zero while maintaining consistency for technicians and staff. They are also better-connected to the growing world of data and analytics, even providing advanced notification of impending maintenance issues.
Here are some of the ways Cummins commonly see advanced diesel engines put to work across industries:
● Agriculture Engines: Advanced diesel engines power combine harvesters, tractors, sprayers, and even autonomous farm equipment. Around 1 million Cummins engines ranging from 2.8 to 19 liters are in agricultural operations all over the world.
● Construction Engines: Diesel delivers power to job sites around the world, with advanced engines also achieving the emissions and fuel efficiencies needed to stay in compliance and under budget. Equipment manufacturers and equipment users can all do more with less through a Cummins construction engine.
● Bus Engines: Cummins bus engines are used in public transit applications as well as school buses. It’s known that consistent uptime and low cost of operation are key for the public sector to achieve its goals and serve the community.
● Marine Engines: Fishing boats, tugboats, and passenger vessels are among the marine vehicles that function more efficiently, affordably, and reliably with advanced diesel engines.
● Mining Engines: Mining is an industry where analytics are especially essential to continue production and innovation in the face of a variety of challenges, including meeting tightening emissions compliance.
● Truck Engines: Cummins serves the commercial trucking industry with advanced diesel engines in four classifications.
○ Vocational: These include refuse trucks, concrete mixers, and dump trucks. Cummins provides a wide range of engines to meet the needs of any duty and operations schedule.
○ Light Commercial: Trucks, vans, pickup trucks, and utility vehicles need advanced diesel engines which are reliable, durable, and cost-effective.
○ Medium Duty: Cummins is North America’s leading provider of the best diesel engines for semi-trucks. Their mid-range diesel engine lineup, service, and support are unparalleled in the market.
○ Heavy Duty: Their 15-liter and 12-liter advanced diesel engines are some of the most popular and reliable ever produced. For the most demanding applications that demand continuous engine use, trust their engine lineup.
These are just some of the current and emerging applications for advanced diesel engines.
Diesel engine problems
Diesel engines need routine maintenance and upkeep to preserve performance, and over the life of the engine, this might include parts replacement. Cummins provides online engine manuals and a service center locator among online support offerings for diesel engine problems. You can check out customer’s frequently asked questions about diesel engines as well.
Overall, diesel engines are high-powered, long lasting, and fuel efficient. The real problem is their emissions. These contribute to the creation of acid rain and ground level ozone.
Today, regulations to reduce emissions for on-road and off-road diesel engines are increasing in scope and enforcement worldwide. Advanced diesel engines achieve reduced emission through engine efficiency and other systems. These improvements allow society to continue to benefit from the fuel efficiency of diesel engines without the harmful emissions that are accelerating climate change, environmental risks, and public health issues.
What is the most reliable diesel engine?
You might be wondering, “which is better, Duramax or Cummins?” Maybe you are considering buying a 2022 Ram Pickup with an optional Cummins engine versus a Chevy.
Where Cummins excels is in their engines’ longevity, torque, and endurance across a spectrum of environmental conditions. Cummins engines perform under pressure, and they last—that’s the benefit of Cummins legacy of experience.
Cummins is also committed to innovating both diesel aftertreatment systems and in-engine technologies that continually optimize performance and minimize emissions. Cummins products are suitable for commercial drivers as well as heavy machinery, recreational vehicles, generators, stationary equipment, and more. Add Cummins Care knowledge base and support network to the list, and reliability takes on even deeper meaning. It’s not just the engines that are reliable—it’s the whole organization.
Cummins has a long history of building diesel engines to meet every need, and they proudly stand by their products as the most reliable, including the diesel engine models below:
Over the last 40 years Cummins has produced more than 13 million B6.7 diesel engines, which continue to power trucks and buses across the world. The B6.7 is known as the most reliable diesel truck engine that has powered vehicles, people, and products across billions of miles. In 2021 Cummins released new upgrades that allow for extended maintenance intervals between oil and filter changes. It is the company’s mission to keep buses and trucks performing longer and more reliably with less overall investment in maintenance from the owners.
This inline 4-cylinder engine powers mining, agricultural, and construction machinery. On average, this model delivers 10% more power and 20% more torque. The aftertreatment system to clean emissions takes up 50% less space and weighs 30% less than many existing systems. Cummins’ Single Module™ aftertreatment system combines DPF, SCR and urea dosing in one “fit-and-forget” unit that operates almost entirely through passive regeneration, extending the service cleaning requirement.
Cummins X15 Efficiency Series™
The X15 Efficiency Series is certified to meet the 2021 EPA and Greenhouse Gas Phase 2 requirements—and Cummins has met those requirements since 2020. This 15-liter diesel engine for trucks and machinery is trusted by a growing number of fleets, owners, and operators to achieve cost savings and new efficiencies in the powertrain.
The QST30 has earned its stripes in the mining industry powering thousands of blast hole drills, wheel loaders, excavators, and haul trucks. This engine is certified as meeting both Tier 4 (U.S.) and Stage 5 (EU) emissions regulations for non-road diesel engines. Cummins’ more controlled in-cylinder combustion process means quieter operation and as much as 8% better fuel economy. A total life to overhaul of 20,000 hours means this mining engine is an investment that will last.
Each of these engines is probably at work somewhere around the world right now, powering life. This is truly a list of some of the most reliable diesel engines in 2022.
Advanced alternatives to the diesel engine
As older vehicles and machinery need refurbishment or replacement, owners may want to consider alternatives to advanced diesel engines. Though efficiencies in emissions management make it possible to burn diesel far more cleanly, some organizations simply want to move away from fossil fuels. Others want to reduce spending on fuel or take advantage of emerging infrastructure in their area. Here are two of the advanced alternative power engines that may be suitable for some applications where diesel isn’t meeting an organization’s needs.
Natural Gas Engines
Natural gas engines are one of the least disruptive ways for diesel to be replaced with alternative power technology. Natural gas is a low-priced domestic fuel that is already supported by a nationwide infrastructure of miles of pipeline and more than 800 public natural gas refueling sites. Many companies set up their own refueling sites. Cummins’ new X15N natural gas engine uses a maintenance free three-way catalyst aftertreatment, further reducing the cost of operation.
This is one of the most viable solutions today for fleets to reduce transportation emissions. In fact, in 2020, fleets of California vehicles powered by renewable natural gas (RNG) removed more carbon dioxide from the air than they produced, resulting in net negative greenhouse gas emissions.
Hydrogen engines are still internal combustion engines, simply running on hydrogen versus fossil fuels. Vehicles burning hydrogen fuel operate without any CO2 emissions coming from the hydrogen fuel, and depending on the source of the hydrogen, even indirect CO2 emissions may be reduced to zero. For example, if hydrogen used for driving is produced by solar panels or wind turbines, that would truly be CO2 free driving. Converting the medium and heavy-duty trucks on the road in the US to clean hydrogen would eliminate about a quarter of the transportation sector’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Cummins predicts buses and long-haul trucks running on hydrogen are going to become a common sight in the coming decades. These will be in addition to battery-electric buses and trucks that are more viable choices under different conditions and missions. Other applications may be more difficult to electrify, such as construction equipment, agricultural machinery, and off-road engines. Depending on their use cases, these machines may need an off-grid power source like hydrogen (or diesel) to be truly reliable.
As businesses seek the competitive edge through lower fuel costs and maintenance costs, diesel engine technology is still very much part of the conversation. Cummins is proud to provide a full lineup of advanced engines using a variety of fuel sources, including diesel, where the company began over 100 years ago.
Trust Cummins for the best diesel engines in 2022 and beyond
Advanced diesel engines are one of the leading tools available to transporters, farmers, manufacturers, builders, and other commercial users. Like any tool, everyone has their preferences for getting the job done. Some people want the newest item on the market, while others prefer a tried-and-tested old reliable. Cummins helps both types achieve their mission with diesel engines that merge a tradition of excellence with today’s leading technology. Their line of advanced diesel engines delivers the high performance you have come to expect from Cummins along with the connectivity, data, and environmental efficiencies that are required by today’s economy and climate.
What solutions caught your attention today? Reach out with more questions about how Cummins advanced diesel engines can become a dependable part of your success.