There have been a lot of headlines in recent weeks about the congressional energy bills, with their many provisions focused on energy efficiency and lack of attention in spurring new sources of oil and gas for our industrial economy.
While the headlines have been focused on the legislation, energy efficiency itself has taken steps forward in many ways at the level where it counts: in the plants and homes across the country. Unlike some issues Congress deals with that can be dealt with and “solved”, energy efficiency is a process and, within manufacturing, it’s one that does not really ever end. New products and ways to make things are being invented all the time that raise the bar on what manufacturers can do. And in many instances, federal support can be important in meeting these higher targets of efficiency.
We had a really good example of that just this week when it was announced that Cummins Inc., a manufacturer of diesel engines in Columbus, Indiana, had been selected for a US Energy Department grant to demonstrate ways to increase the fuel efficiency of light weight diesel engines by 10.5 percent. Cummins will partner with BP and DaimlerChrysler on this research.
Further research and work on diesel technology leads directly to greater energy efficiency and lower greenhouse gas emissions becasue diesel fuel itself has better fuel economy than gasoline and emits much lower greenhouse gas. Some say that a diesel engine will get 40 percent more mileage per gallon and emit only 70 percent as much GHG when compared with a gasoline combustion engine.
Cummins is a good candidate for this kind of research because their business line is diesel engines. Their diverse line of engines has proven to be a good balance this year, leading them to record second quarter revenues and strong earnings, despite a major pullback in orders in the North American heavy-duty engine market.
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