As we continue to learn more about the impacts and causes of climate change, and the negative implications harmful emissions have on our world, we have seen a deliberate push towards clean energy, environmental protection, and sustainability. However, the transition to sustainable means of power creates more significant challenges for industries that rely on energy sources from which we are trying to move away, such as freight transportation. The freight transportation industry is one such industry that is facing a unique challenge.
The freight transportation industry offers the means by which manufacturers, vendors, companies, and producers can get their products from their facilities into the hands of their customers. However, every mode of freight transportation, whether by planes, ships, or trucks, relies on fuel to power that mode of transportation. As we all know, fuel is not sustainable – once used, it’s gone, and the byproducts of using that fuel can also be harmful to the environment.
In an attempt to thwart these challenges, shipping companies have been diligently working to figure out ways to reduce fuel consumption, limit emissions, and move towards greener solutions that have less of an impact on climate change. More and more frequently, we are seeing a push from the public for freight transportation companies to be accountable for their impact. As a result, more and more trucking companies are making more significant investments in finding sustainable solutions for their operations.
NOx Emissions and Trucks
Nitric Oxide or NOx is a byproduct of burning gasoline and fuel in cars and trucks. Unfortunately, large quantities of NOx are harmful to the environment. NOx is the most significant contributor to air pollution and is responsible for the smog in most major cities and highly populated areas. NOx also causes acid rain, which damages plants and increases the pH levels of bodies of water to dangerous levels for wildlife. With many individuals relying on cars and trucks for transportation, it is clear that society –and the freight transportation industry– needed to find more sustainable solutions that have less of an impact on air pollution.
Reduction of NOx emissions began by creating new exhaust systems that more effectively filter the air or collect NOx emissions so that they can be safely processed and discarded. Other solutions have included discovering ways to make freight transportation more fuel-efficient. Because NOx is a byproduct of burning fuel, trucks that burn less fuel over time logically have fewer NOx solutions. Battery-powered trucks are another exciting technology undergoing research. Battery-powered trucks would have zero NOx emissions because they wouldn’t burn any fuel whatsoever. Currently, the technology does not exist for a fully battery-powered truck. Still, trucking companies continue to invest in research in this area, hoping that a breakthrough will occur within the next few years.
Though there have been many advances in finding ways to reduce NOx emissions in freight transportation, there is still much work to do and improvements to make. In 2019, the International Council on Clean Transportation performed a study on the current state of NOx emissions from trucks and found that there is still plenty of room for improvement. For example, trucks are still not entirely efficient at reducing NOx emissions in high traffic areas or urban centers, as idling vehicles contribute up to 40% of all NOx emissions. However, the trajectory of technology is heading in the right direction.
Laws and Regulations On The Forefront
The EPA is leading the charge in pushing sustainability in the freight transportation industry with its greenhouse gas rules, or GHG rules. These laws introduce a phase-out approach that requires freight transportation companies to reduce their emissions by a certain percent over time. If trucking companies fail to meet these benchmarks, they will face significant penalties or fines. The benefit of these rules is that trucking companies must continue embracing improving technologies and investing in research to reduce emissions.
The Future of Sustainable Trucking
In trucking, great strides have been made to move towards more efficient and more environmentally friendly solutions that allow us to continue a thriving freight transportation industry without leaving such a devastating impact on the planet. As cleaner technology becomes more available and accessible to trucking companies, the transition towards more sustainable options is more realistic. In other words, it will only get better from here because every day, we learn new ways to improve our technology, increase efficiency, and promote sustainability in the freight transportation industry. Older, less environmentally friendly trucks will continue to be cycled out in the upcoming years, making room for newer models that consume less fuel and emit fewer emissions. The future of sustainable freight transportation is bright and will continue to improve over time.
Contact us today to hear how East Coast Transport plans to grow our company into a more sustainable future.