As January 2010 draws near, fleet managers and owner/operators will have to decide between two competing technologies to meet EPA2010 emissions standards. By now, most will know that Navistar is going to ramp up exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) levels in order to become EPA2010-compliant, while all other manufacturers are employing the exhaust aftertreatment system known as Selective Catalytic Reduction(SCR).
Each solution has its advantages and each also presents some concerns. Both camps are ramping up their PR campaigns and will undoubtedly be disseminating some information in the coming months that will be challenged and debated. The PR war is already underway, and will only intensify in the weeks and months ahead. There’s a lot at stake here for all truck and engine manufacturers.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll post a series of blogs that will address some concerns and/or myths about EPA2010 emissions standards and both of the solutions that will be presented to the market. These blogs will be comprised of information obtained through many interviews I’ve conducted on the subject and plenty of additional research.
If you’re a stakeholder in this debate, and wish to comment on any of the points below, feel free to post a comment.
Today, I’ll start by addressing the concern that with only 344 days to go, there’s still no urea (DEF) infrastructure network in place.
EPA2010 MYTH: There’s not enough time to develop the urea distribution network required for SCR
Ever since SCR was first discussed as a potential solution for EPA2010 emissions standards, concerns were expressed about the ability to develop a comprehensive North America-wide distribution network for urea. Urea (now referred to as Diesel Exhaust Fluid – DEF) is the required additive for SCR systems. Housed in a separate tank, the fluid is injected in small doses into the exhaust stream. It then causes a chemical reaction in the SCR catalyst where NOx is broken down into harmless water and nitrogen.
SCR’s detractors initially voiced doubts that DEF would be widely available by 2010, citing the need for massive infrastructure investments. Those concerns may have been valid, if you were envisioning the need for a DEF pump at every truck stop and cardlock across North America. That’s not going to be the case by January 2010, but fortunately for SCR backers, that level of availability will not be required.
DEF will be consumed at the relatively slow rate of 2-3% compared to diesel, engine manufacturers claim. DEF tank sizes will range from about 13-20 gallons, so a truck will likely only require a DEF top-up every 4,000-6,000 miles.
To put it in perspective, a highway truck with a 13-gallon DEF tank averaging 6.5 mpg will be able to travel from New York to Los Angeles and then back to Denver before requiring a DEF top-up, according to Mack Trucks’ David McKenna.
So while you may not find a DEF pump at every filling station by January 2010, it’s hardly a cause for concern. There will be plenty of places along a 4,000-6,000 mile run to find DEF, including all truck and engine dealers that offer SCR engines, many truck stops and other DEF distributors.
The DEF distribution network has begun to take form, and most notably Pilot Travel Centers has committed to offering the fluid ‘at-the-pump’ and in a variety of other sizes. Undoubtedly, as the opportunity to profit from the sale of DEF draws closer, more truck stops will announce their intentions to carry the fluid. Many suppliers have already announced their intention to produce and distribute DEF. Drivers will be able to carry a spare tote jug of DEF along with them, to ensure they don’t run out of the fluid en-route.
As Michael Delaney, senior vice-president of marketing with Daimler Trucks North America points out, “One would have to work pretty hard to run out of DEF.”
Even the harshest critics of SCR seem to have backed off claims that DEF won’t be widely available by 2010 and have turned their attention to other factors, such as its price. But that’s the subject for another blog entry in this series.
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