PEORIA, Ill. - With the entire trucking world holding its breath over upcoming emissions deadlines, Caterpillar insists it has found a viable solution that builds off existing, long-proven technology....
AIR CARE: Cat says this type of particulate-matter problem is history.
PEORIA, Ill. – With the entire trucking world holding its breath over upcoming emissions deadlines, Caterpillar insists it has found a viable solution that builds off existing, long-proven technology.
The company has unveiled its Advanced Combustion Emissions Reduction Technology (ACERT), which will become commercially available in the third quarter of 2003. ACERT is combined with what will be Cat’s third generation HEUI (hydraulically-actuated, electronically-controlled unit injector) fuel system and the most advanced electronic controls and air systems the company has ever offered. Together they form the backbone of the first emission-reducing formula publicly championed by a North American engine manufacturer as being ready to face 2004.
The complete line of what Cat is now calling its Clean Power Engines includes all current ratings of the 3126E, C-10, C-12, C-15 and C-16 models.
It had long been theorized that any solution to 2002, 2004 and 2007 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-imposed targets would need to include cooled-exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). Instead of sending the engine emissions out the stacks, this system draws a portion of them back into the combustion chamber and literally burns them away.
Sounds great right? Well, there are some potential pitfalls of EGR that have yet to be addressed with any public success. The amount of heat rejected during the process threatens component life, current component design/placement and even coolant life. It was feared that EGR would mean shrinking of drain and other engine maintenance intervals to compensate for higher soot and potentially corrosive contaminant loads the oil would need to suddenly handle.
EGR-equipped engines would also increase in size and complexity, says John Campbell, truck-engine products director of Cat’s Performance Engine Products Division. New components would need to be added into engine design, as well as bolstered cooling systems.
This led to fears that the envelop under the hood of many existing truck models would need to grow to accommodate EGR-equipped powerplants. He adds his company finally decided to avoid cooled EGR due to the resulting higher cost, both for truck manufacturers and owners.
ACERT, on the other hand, doesn’t present any of these problems, says Campbell.
“ACERT requires minimal new hardware, which lowers the overall cost and greatly simplifies installation for the truck manufacturer,” he says. “In addition, the simplicity of the system will mean that the transition from current engines to ACERT-equipped engines will be almost unnoticeable to the customer.”
Dave Semlow, marketing manager of Cat’s Truck Engine Division, says the new system, “maintains today’s reliability and durability standards while minimizing effects on owning and operating costs.”
ACERT reportedly offers other benefits, including 20 per cent better engine retarding capability, no foul odors and 50 per cent lower noise levels.
Cat readily admits that its new technology simply won’t be available for the 2002 deadline; however, it isn’t worried.
“Caterpillar is not asking for a delay in the 2002 deadline,” says Campbell. “We’ll still work within the flexibility of the agreement.”
While he refuses to explain precisely what that flexibility is, Campbell says the bank of and/or trading of emissions credits is one option within the framework of the U.S. Clean Air Act.
These credits, representing the total level of emissions a firm is allowed, can be bought and sold to allow higher emitters to compensate for their overage without actually making reductions.
While this type of wrangling may provide a short-term answer, Cat insists ACERT is its way of the future.
“ACERT is a customer-driven solution that is designed for the long-term,” says Semlow. To meet 2007’s reduction targets – a 98 per cent reduction of both particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen from 1998 levels – Cat says it will incorporate some form aftertreatment device.
Campbell explains that the company already employs both passive oxidation catylists and urea-based selective catylitic reduction (SCR) in other applications.
He says he’s confident any concerns over these systems will be addressed, both by his company and the industry, long before the 2007 deadline. n