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Dynamic Diesels

Driven by economic and environmental concerns, diesel-engine cars are gaining traction in Europe. Will the mania for compression ignition make a comeback in America?
Paul A. Eisenstein
From the Print Edition:
Tom Selleck, Nov/Dec 2007

(continued from page 3)

And there are other breakthroughs on the horizon. The Fischer-Tropsch process—used extensively by petroleum-poor Germany, during the Second World War—can transform a wide range of feed stocks, as well as coal, into low-polluting substitutes for today's diesel fuel. Then there's bio-diesel, which is rapidly becoming a cult favorite around the United States, where it can be produced from leftover fast-food cooking oils, among other things. Willie Nelson, an active proponent, has set up his own production and distribution network. All this should sound appropriate to those familiar with the life of Rudolf Diesel, who originally hoped to fuel his invention with some form of bio-fuel, in part to help German farmers.

How much demand for the diesel will grow remains uncertain, but the days of exile are over. And the more fuel prices rise, the better a case can be made by manufacturers and consumers alike. Of course, price alone won't revive the diesel. But with the latest engines delivering great performance, unexpected comfort and few of the pollutants associated with diesels of the past, the future looks upbeat.

Contributing editor Paul A. Eisenstein publishes a magazine on automotives at on the Internet.

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