The U.S. Department of Energy has defined “Carbon Management” targets and “Clean Fuels” standards for each of the fuel categories below. The defining criteria is the net carbon reduction of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions through commercially acceptable applications. There are commercial options available today for each of these “Clean Fuels” categories listed at various levels of viability depending on their total cost of ownership basis.

Traditional Fuels

Premium Clean Burning Fossil Fuels

Traditional Fuels include those produced through crude oil refining, natural gas processing (natural gas and gas liquids, e.g., propane, butanes, etc.), and predominantly grain-derived ethanol. These fuels have been consistent commercial performers for years with new, incremental performance improvements coming from improved refinery processing, formulaic modifications, the addition of performance-enhancing additives, advances in combustion engine engineering, and the application of improved monitoring technology to the combustion process itself with its downstream pollution mitigation applications.

Transitional Fuels

Blended Fossil Fuels

Transitional Fuels includes liquid Traditional Fuels that have been upgraded with an additive blend offering measurable GHG reduction over baseline Traditional Fuels, Traditional Fuels that have been blended either beyond the Traditional Fuels baseline, e.g., ethanol blends E15, E85, etc. or unconventionally derived blendstocks, e.g., biodiesel, renewable diesel, butanol, etc. Further, this fuels’ grouping includes compressed natural gas (CNG) and propane where 2nd- and 3rd-generation technologies offer improved performance and improved delivery options, e.g., stand-alone fast-fill, on-site wet-hosing and increasingly expanding off-site network infrastructure. While Federal and State incentives exist to promote adoption and further development of blendstock applications, market penetration is limited by complex governing Federal and State regulatory environments for petroleum and distribution system access.

Future Fuels

Non-Fossil Fuels

Future include fuel types restrained by a lack of sufficient or existing infrastructure, e.g., CNG, liquified natural gas (LNG), methanol, hydrogen, and electric. While media accounts project a new paradigm for this fuels’ grouping, reality, particularly for electric, and in spite of Federal and State incentives, is disappointing in terms of adoption. Further, scrutiny of electric reveals multiple shortcomings, including high capital and operating costs, unknown vehicle longevity, a fast-fill infrastructure network, and questionable GHG emission reductions. Future Fuels is most dependent as a group on development capital and time to develop and truly commercialize.