BSR logo

Collaborative Initiatives | Future of Fuels | Case Study Library

UPS: Renewable Diesel Case Study

UPS: Renewable Diesel Case Study Overview

This case study, provided by UPS, highlights how renewable diesel performed in the context of a two-week test carried out in the United States with two categories of trucks (package cars and day cab tractors).

Part 1: Baseline Fleet and Technology

This section describes the characteristics of the existing technology in the fleet (i.e. prior to the test). This provides information on the fleet characteristics, duty cycle details, and region of operation for the technology being tested.

Company Name United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS)

Vehicle Type Two categories of vehicle were investigated during this fleet evaluation:
(1) Package car (class 6). All package cars for this in-field evaluation were model P100D and were equipped with Cummins ISB diesel engines on a Freightliner chassis
(2) Day cab Tractor. The day cab tractors had various engine and chassis makes, but all were class 7–8 and used for regional haul operations

Fuel Type Diesel

Refueling Onsite

Average Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) Class 6 = 15,000 miles/year
Class 8 = 120,000 miles/year

Hours of Operation Approximately 2,520

Average Load Note: UPS typically cubes out prior to weighing out
Avg payload of class 6 = 2 tons
Avg payload of class 8 = 7 tons

Maximum Load Max payload of class 6: 4 tons.
Max payload of class 8: 15 tons

Length of Haul 4,754 miles

Return to Base Yes

Country United States

City or Region Houston to Dallas, Baton Rouge, Texarkana, Abilene, Austin, and many areas in between

Lifespan Class 6 is Approximately 20 years
Class 8 is Approximately 12 years

Description (optional) In total, 12 vehicles were instrumented for real-world data collection, six package cars and six day cab tractors, all in the Houston area. Data was collected from April 20, 2015, to May 8, 2015. Drive cycle analysis was then used to select appropriate standard test cycles for further evaluation on NREL's heavy-duty chassis dynamometer at the Renewable Fuels and Lubricants (ReFUEL) Laboratory.


Part 2: Technology and Test Purpose

This section describes the type of technology tested and primary reasons behind the test.

Technology Tested Renewable diesel on diesel engines for UPS package cars (class 6) as well as class 7-8 diesel engine on day cab tractors

Test Purpose NREL's Fleet Test and Evaluation Team aims to analyze near-term advanced technologies and provide unbiased performance data back to potential vehicle customers, equipment manufacturers, and the R&D community at large. Clean Cities brings together stakeholders in the public and private sectors to deploy alternative and renewable fuels that help advance the nation's economic, environmental, and energy security by reducing petroleum consumption in transportation. Together, as part of a joint effort, a team was gathered to instrument and collect real-world drive cycle data from six package delivery cars and six day cab tractors operating in the Houston area, followed by further fuel economy and emissions analysis at NREL's ReFUEL facility. The goal of this work was to better understand what fuel economy and emissions impacts may arise from switching a fleet of vehicles from conventional petroleum to synthetic renewable diesel.


Part 3: Test Parameters

This section describes the actual parameters used to test the new sustainable technology, including number of vehicles tested, testing timeline, additional training and infrastructure requirements, etc.

Test Standard (if any) ASTM

Sample Size 6 UPS package cars (class 6) + 6 UPS day cab tractors (class 8)

Test Dates April 20, 2015 - May 8, 2015

Total Miles Tested 46,648

Total Hours Tested 1,197

Average Load Tested Note: UPS typically cubes out prior to weighing out.
Avg payload of UPS class 6 = 2 tons
Avg payload of UPS class 8 = 7 tons

Maximum Load Tested 7 tons

Time to Fuel (in Minutes) Not relevant, time to fuel is the same as refueling from a typically diesel dispenser

Testing Barriers (optional) None identified


Part 4: Supporting Services

This section describes the additional supporting services needed for the sustainable technology tested, including details on fuel type, infrastructure requirements, and personnel training.

Fuel Type Renewable Diesel

Feedstock Vegetable oil, animal fat, waste cooking oil, and algal oil

ASTM Name and Type D975

Level of Readily Available Infrastructure High

New/Special Infrastructure Requirements None, renewable diesel is a drop-in fuel, meaning that no modifications are needed to infrastructure or vehicles

Special Training Requirements None, from a driver’s perspective, the vehicle operates identical to traditional diesel


Part 5: Operational Performance

This section describes the key metrics used to measure operational performance of the alternative fuel or technology, benchmarked against the current technology used in the fleet.

Air Quality Emissions Percentage 4.1% NOx reduction compared to conventional diesel; 4.2% reduction in tailpipe CO2 compared to conventional diesel

Fuel Economy (MPDGE) 3.5% to 4.8% reduction compared to conventional diesel

Driver Satisfaction High

Special Training Requirements None, product performs no different than conventional diesel

Special Maintenance Requirements None, product performs no different than conventional diesel

Additional Benefits for Fleet None, other than data already stated

Additional Challenges for Fleet None, other than data already stated


Part 6: Financial Performance

This section describes company’s expectations for financial and economic performance of the technology, benchmarked against the incumbent fuel/technology. Where noted, minus (-) is savings and plus (+) is additional costs for the fleet.

Fuel Premiums/Savings There is a 3.5% to 4.8% reduction in fuel economy, also the current cost of renewable diesel is more than conventional diesel.

Maintenance Premiums/Savings No maintenance premiums or savings are expected

Capital Premiums/Savings None

Estimated Residual Value in USD$ N/A

Did You Use Subsidies? Yes


Part 7: Conclusions

Will you Include this Technology in Your Fleet? Yes

Additional Comments Renewable diesel is an alternate fuel source to conventional diesel that provides a significant decrease in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions. A three-week, in-field data collection period on six day cab tractors and six package cars yielded 170 usable days of real-world vehicle operation that were used to select representative standard cycles for further testing. Fuel economy and emissions tests at NREL's ReFUEL Laboratory showed that in general when switching from conventional petroleum diesel to renewable diesel, the thermal efficiency of a cycle remains relatively constant and observed changes in tailpipe carbon dioxide, fuel consumption, and fuel economy are primarily driven by changes in fuel properties such as hydrogen-to-carbon ratio, density, and lower heating value. The vehicles tested with the renewable diesel fuel showed a consistent 4.2% reduction in tailpipe CO2, but a 3.5% to 4.8% reduction in fuel economy compared with local pump diesel. This is consistent with the 4.2% lower volumetric lower heating value of the renewable diesel compared to the pump diesel. However, pump diesel values may vary regionally and seasonally based on local pump fuel blending and composition. The UPS package car tested on renewable diesel fuel also demonstrated a 4.1% NOx reduction. NOx emissions from the UPS SCR-equipped tractor were an order of magnitude lower than the package car but showed some variability in results from cycle to cycle. In order to reduce test variability, especially with SCR equipped engines, and resolve small NOx changes an engine test stand may be more suitable than full vehicle chassis testing.

Would You Recommend this Technology for Other Fleets or Applications? Yes



The information contained on BSR’s Future of Fuels Case Study Library website is for general information purposes only. We recognize that companies may choose to use the information provided to make critical business decisions, therefore BSR and its partners endeavor to provide the best available data.

However, BSR and its partners make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the information or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.

Additional Solutions

Sustainable Fuel Buyers’ Principles

To meet joint objectives of economic growth and emissions reductions, operators will need to leverage a diverse, often confusing, set of existing and emerging solutions. These Principles provide a robust framework to catalyze lasting change to the road freight fuel system.

Learn More


Fuel Sustainability Tool

Today, more people are expecting vehicles and fleets to run on cleaner, more sustainable fuels—but which fuels are clean? And what makes them sustainable? Our Fuel Sustainability Tool simplifies sustainability for fleet owners and provides credible, comparable data for fleet planning and fuel purchasing.

Register below to download the Fuel Tool (Excel format) and Reference documentation.

Download


Fuel Sustainability Briefs

Developed in 2015, the Fuel Sustainability Briefing series gives practitioners information to develop practical approaches that accelerate the transition to low-carbon fuels by summarizing our research on the market outlook, key issues, and sustainability potential for five fuel categories.

Learn More