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Explore research, insights, and frequently-asked-questions outlining how ClearFlame equips heavy-duty engines anywhere – from fleets, to off-road, agriculture and power generation – to quickly break free from fossil fuels, slash emissions, and reduce costs.

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Discover how ClearFlame drives decarbonization by equipping heavy-duty, diesel engines to quickly and efficiently break free from fossil fuels.

ClearFlame Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Analysis

ClearFlame Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Analysis

Decarbonizing America’s Heavy-Duty Diesel Engines

Decarbonizing America’s Heavy-Duty Diesel Engines

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

ClearFlame’s technology modifies diesel combustion engines, allowing them to run on a wider range of fuels without sacrificing performance or increasing costs. It can be applied to both new and existing diesel engines and a wide variety of applications. The technology enables engines to use cleaner and less expensive fuels – a win-win for the environment and customers’ pocketbooks.

Our initial focus is on hard-to-electrify “dirty diesel” applications, including long-haul trucks, off-road agricultural equipment, and power generators, all of which are among the worst contributors to greenhouse emissions and pollution.

ClearFlame’s co-founders – BJ Johnson and Julie Blumreiter – met while pursuing their PhDs in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. BJ’s dissertation research forms the basis of ClearFlame’s central intellectual property, and he was the lead inventor on a patent filed by Stanford University for this work. Working as a team, BJ and Julie Blumreiter earned a spot in the inaugural class of the Chain Reaction Innovations program at Argonne National Laboratory, which provided the company with access to lab equipment and scientists, as well as public research funding from the Department of Energy. The resulting company, ClearFlame Engine Technologies, uses this innovative technology solution to enable rapid carbon mitigation; reducing emissions from diesel engines through the use of decarbonized liquid fuels.

We are currently waiting for regulatory approval from the EPA and hope to have this by the end of 2023; this is the last hurdle to enable commercialization of our technology. We’ll start by retrofitting trucks currently on the road – allowing heavily polluting long-haul big rigs to operate more cleanly, translating into fewer greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. We’ll then focus on working with agricultural vehicles and power generators – two more heavily polluting contributors.

While our focus is on long-haul, off-road, and power generators at this time, we’re very open to exploring other ways our technology could help a wide variety of applications. We prioritize “hard to electrify” sectors – but our goal is to provide a decarbonized alternative to anyone who would otherwise buy a fossil-fueled product.

Electrification and hydrogen power are great solutions for lighter-and medium weight vehicles, but they can’t provide the power needed for our world’s biggest and toughest working engines. The truth is, when it comes to solving climate change issues, there isn’t one, perfect solution. If we are to meet our 2050 net-zero greenhouse emissions goals, we need to embrace all technologies available to us – and this is an easy choice when technology like ClearFlame’s, which is rapidly implementable at scale and also offers substantial cost savings.

No! In fact, ClearFlame’s technology will help reduce costs. A recent Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) study released by GNA [add link] found that ClearFlame-enabled trucks are expected to have the lowest TCO when compared with diesel, natural gas, electric, and hydrogen platforms. ClearFlame’s cost per mile is expected to be substantially lower than electric and hydrogen platforms—40% less than electric and 30% less than hydrogen.

The exact cost of the implementation is dependent on several factors, including the engine platform itself and whether it is a new or retrofit integration. From a total cost of ownership perspective, we’re targeting to ensure a user can pay for their investment within an 18-24 month timeframe. We estimate that for integration, either retrofit or OE, our technology will be in the range of tens of thousands of dollars. In terms of the technology’s impact on fuel cost, this can be variable, depending on region and how many miles are being driven. Check out our TCO calculator here [add link] to find out the applicable savings to your area.

Because 80-90% of the engine remains the same, it can be worked on utilizing the existing skillsets of the 251k trained diesel mechanics across the country. So, essentially, any mechanic who can work on a diesel engine can easily work on a ClearFlame-enabled one.

We have four patent families in process. As of Jan 2022, 1 has been issued, 1 has been allowed, 2 are in progress, and a few additional were filed in 2021.

ClearFlame’s technology is fuel agnostic, meaning we can run on a wide variety of plant-based, renewable fuels.

While ClearFlame’s technology is fuel agnostic, we currently  use  100% ethanol because it is a clean and low-cost fuel that’s readily available today, and we believe the world can’t wait any longer for climate change solutions. Ethanol’s ease of availability, combined with its path to net zero, provides diesel truck  operators with a way to immediately lower costs, lower their emissions levels, and transform their operations,  starting with existing trucks on the road.

The overwhelming majority of environmental scientists and experts agree that today’s ethanol is a powerful tool in our arsenal to end our dependence on fossil fuels and fight climate change.  A few overall takeaways:

  • Ethanol reduces GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions; corn ethanol’s carbon intensity is 44-52% lower than the average for gasoline, according to experts at Argonne National Laboratory, Harvard, MIT, and other institutions. Some corn ethanol on the market today achieves a 61% reduction.
  • Ethanol reduces harmful tailpipe emissions, reducing particulate matter (soot) emissions, carbon monoxide (CO), toxic compounds, and NOx emissions.
  • Like other solutions, ethanol fuels continue to improve its carbon reduction, and has a path to reaching net zero in the near future.
  • Ethanol reduces gas prices, currently saving U.S. consumers save an average of 22 cents per gallon of gasoline.
  • Because it is produced in the US, ethanol enhances energy security, reducing overall demand and reliance on imports.
  • Ethanol keeps revenues in the U.S., supporting rural economies when they need it most.

A lot has changed in recent years; corn production’s fertilizer use has declined significantly since 2005 for example, when America’s federal government first introduced programs relating to energy policy and reducing dependence on foreign fuels. USDA data show that total fertilizer application on corn in recent years is less than what was applied to corn in the 1970s and 1980s. Today’s corn ethanol now also provides nearly three times the energy used to produce it.

Moreover, the amount of corn being planted in the United States has not increased due to new demands for ethanol, as better farming techniques continue to be implemented allowing greater production from the same (or smaller) amounts of land.

You may be referring to an article put out in February, 2022 by Tyler Lark and others sometimes referred to as the “Lark Study”. After close examination, environmental scientists and experts from across the country found it was deeply flawed, with countless inaccuracies and false conclusions. There is overwhelming scientific consensus from scientists at Argonne Labs, Harvard, MIT, Tufts, USDA, Purdue, UIC and others, that ethanol offers a ~45% reduction in CO2, among numerous other benefits. You can read more in this press release issued by Growth Energy or this report issued by Argonne National Labs.

There is nothing temporary about the ClearFlame solution. Our technology offers the greatest carbon reduction potential today, but also has one of the fastest pathways to net zero emissions. Once decarbonized liquid fuels reach “net carbon negative” status (and some already have) there’s good reason to believe such fuels will remain relevant indefinitely.

EV and fuel cell trucks are coming, but adoption is proving to be more challenging than expected, and we simply cannot wait. Those solutions deserve the investment they’re receiving, but they aren’t sufficient on their own, and no credible carbon mitigation plan can avoid a broad range of solutions.