Renewable Diesel: An Alternative Fuel for Commercial Trucks

Renewable Diesel, Transportation Industry

Renewable Diesel: An Alternative Fuel for Commercial Trucks

As the world shifts towards cleaner and more sustainable energy sources, the transportation sector is also undergoing significant changes. One promising alternative fuel gaining traction is renewable diesel. This fuel not only provides a cleaner option compared to traditional diesel, but also offers a viable alternative to electric trucks, especially in the commercial sector.

What is Renewable Diesel?

Renewable diesel is produced from non-petroleum renewable resources, including natural fats, vegetable oils, and greases. It’s chemically similar to petroleum diesel but is manufactured through a process called hydrocracking or hydrotreating. This process significantly reduces the emission of greenhouse gases and particulates compared to conventional diesel. Importantly, renewable diesel is a ‘drop-in’ fuel, meaning operators can use it in existing diesel engines without modification.

Benefits Over Electric Trucks

While electric trucks have been heralded as the future of green transportation, there are several areas where renewable diesel might hold an advantage, particularly in the commercial sector:

  1. Infrastructure Compatibility: Renewable fuels can utilize the existing fueling infrastructure, offering a significant advantage over electric trucks that require new charging stations and upgrades to electrical grids.
  2.  Range and Refueling Time: Commercial trucks powered by renewable diesel can travel as far as traditional diesel trucks and refuel in minutes, unlike electric trucks, which may require hours to recharge.
  3. Cold Weather Performance: Diesel engines, including those running on renewable diesel, generally perform better in cold weather compared to electric vehicles, which can suffer from reduced battery efficiency in low temperatures.
  4. Cost-Effectiveness: The transition to renewable diesel can prove more cost-effective for many fleets. The costs associated with purchasing new electric trucks and installing charging infrastructure can be prohibitive, whereas switching to renewable diesel may only require minimal adjustments.

Environmental Impact

Using renewable diesel significantly reduces the environmental impact of trucking. The use leads to lower emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and particulates. This not only helps reduce the carbon footprint but also improves air quality, making it a crucial step towards achieving environmental sustainability goals.


For companies looking to reduce their environmental impact without the high upfront costs and infrastructure changes required by electric vehicles, renewable fuels offer a compelling solution. It bridges the gap between traditional diesel and future electric options, providing a practical and immediate path to cleaner commercial transport. As technology and production scale up, renewable diesel could become a key player in the green transportation revolution.

The down side: it currently doesn’t meet Government mandate of zero tailpipe emissions. Reach out to your local legislators to offer your opinion.

Join the voice of NATSA in helping to promote alternative fuel for commercial trucks. We all understand the need for cleaner energy sources, and renewable diesel offers a very promising option. Contact NATSA for more information.

North American Transportation Services Association (NATSA)