CEO of Ethanol-Diesel Engine Tech company ClearFlame targets agricultural equipment and portable generator markets

“And, also, when we talk to fleets about whether they prefer to run a slightly larger tank or just refuel a little more frequently, your typical diesel truck will have a range of around 1,200 miles. 700 miles isn’t a bother to most fleets, and those that do can again carry a slightly larger tank.

When it comes to horsepower, torque and all the performance metrics farms expect from a diesel engine, Johnson said ClearFlame technology was able to maintain those characteristics.

ClearFlame uses a different fuel injection system and a higher temperature combustion process, he explained. “And when you marry those two things together, we’re finally able to show that you can get all of those exact same diesel performance parameters that you expect.”


The role ethanol can play in an overall strategy to reduce carbon emissions has been largely ignored by the Biden administration, which is pushing for the expansion of electric vehicles.

President Joe Biden’s 2050 climate action plan is banking on what electrification and hydrogen can do for the transportation sector.

However, Johnson said the administration also expects more CO2 reductions in transportation to come from low-carbon fuels than from electric vehicles or hydrogen, under this plan.

Replacing diesel fuel with ethanol could result in a gigatonne of carbon reduction in the United States, he said.

Currently, US ethanol producers have the capacity to produce about 17 billion gallons per year, or about 11% of what it would take to replace diesel with ethanol.

“No one can say that fuels like ethanol don’t have a role to play,” Johnson said. “That’s a staggering number that would be like getting rid of 90 billion gallons of diesel fuel. Take what that means for ethanol. That’s about 150 billion gallons of ethanol. The market potential here is absolutely huge.”


Johnson said he hears many questions about the viability of ethanol as an economy-wide carbon-reducing fuel versus the future of electric vehicles.

When it comes to ethanol, the data is unequivocal: its overall carbon intensity score is equal to – if not better than – electric vehicles as things stand, he said.

Many environmental groups wonder if it is possible to produce enough ethanol to replace diesel engines.

“That’s actually one of the big misconceptions I run into when I say we run our truck on E98,” Johnson said.

“People say you can’t get that fuel. I think there’s kind of a misconception that ethanol comes out of ethanol plants as E10 or something. Like you As you all know, the economics of ethanol is very competitive, and also a reduction in carbon emissions comparable to an electric vehicle, and that has been validated by many groups,” Johnson said.

In particular, universities like Harvard, Tufts University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found that ethanol has a 45-50% reduction in CO2 compared to fossil fuels.

“So it’s not perfect, and I don’t think we should be here to say that we think ethanol is a perfect fuel, but it’s very similar to the level of carbon reduction that you get by passing to an electric vehicle today, because the grid isn’t perfect either,” Johnson said.

Although electric vehicles are seen by environmental groups and others as the future of all transportation, Johnson said it’s generally accepted that long-haul freight trucks aren’t expected to move away from fuels anytime soon. liquids.

“So people are going to kind of argue a bit about how quickly something like these trucks can electrify,” he said.

“The same argument exists in passenger cars, of course. I believe electrification is a moment, not so, but I think it’s important to remember that the moment really depends on the sector.”

Although many ethanol industry representatives are eager to tackle electric vehicles, Johnson said ethanol must continue to improve its performance in response to the electric vehicle challenge.

“I don’t think running to electric vehicles is a viable strategy,” he said. “Yeah, it’s true that they present themselves as show-free when they’re not because the network isn’t clean. All of those things are true, but at the end of the day, they have a chance of improve their product, they deserve the chance.The ethanol sector can complement this opportunity.

In some circles, the view is that ethanol is a fuel that can be converted to even less carbon-intensive fuels, including renewable diesel.

“ClearFlame is saying this is just not the right strategy for this market,” he said.

“Take the engine and modify it so you don’t have to worry about making another fuel.”

Johnson said his company continues to face multiple narratives when pitching its technology to various businesses and others.

Ethanol has the potential to eliminate the notion that switching to green technologies comes at a high price.

“The world already knows that we need low-carbon liquid fuels,” he said. “They just don’t realize that ethanol is a good low-carbon liquid fuel and can be used in the applications that need liquid fuels the most. And that’s an industry that’s playing defense. for a long time.

“But I think there’s an opportunity to go on the offensive here. If we’re serious about our climate goals, you need that fuel and you need to listen to that story.”

Todd Neeley can be reached at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter @DTNeeley

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