Filter management at your fingertips

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CALGARY, Alta. – While still a truck on the outside, new environmental standards created by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will change the underlying makeup of what powers a rig.

Western Star and Sterling representatives arrived in Calgary during June, as part of an eight-city tour, to provide input into how the new environmental standards will change the makeup of the actual truck.

From where the new components will be placed to new switches on the dashboard, the changes are not substantial; but each change is certified by the EPA and not negotiable.

“The aftertreatment device in its current position is an emission standard certification,” noted Dan Silbernagel, product strategy for Western Star and Sterling. “From the turbo to the diesel particulate filter, it cannot be modified or the system loses its certification.”

The EPA 07 standards require all engines built after the last day in 2006 to reduce the level of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter currently produced. Earlier this year truck engine manufacturers answered the call and announced the implementation of advanced technology to meet the new regulations.

Among the new advancements is a unique aftertreatment device. The aftertreatment device is a 3-4 ft. long canister, depending on the size and make of the engine, which houses the diesel particulate filter (DPF). Inside the device a small spray of diesel fuel will be dosed, burning off particulate matter and reducing emission levels through an event called regeneration.

Regeneration will come in two forms, passive and active. Passive regeneration takes place inside the DPF when temperatures reach 300 C. The process is ongoing when the truck is being driven and exhaust gas temperatures are no higher than normal. Active regeneration occurs when the inside temperature of the DPF reaches 600 C. Active regeneration can occur either while in-transit or in a stationary situation. The regeneration process will require new switches on the dashboard and need a touch of attention from the driver. The new lamplights are an industry standard and will be the same for all trucks and manufacturers.

“If the driver has to slow the vehicle between five to 10 mph, the regeneration will stop automatically and the heat lamp will go on,” explained Silbernagel. “Active regeneration will be available through a switch on the dashboard.”

“If the light comes on and it is ignored the engine will protect itself and a stationary regeneration will be required,” he added. “If it is further ignored the engine will shut down and a filter replacement will be required to operate again.”

For Sterling and Western Star trucks the dashboard switches will be the standard. Fleet owners who do not want the driver to have control of the process can have the switches removed and the active regeneration can be controlled by a handheld device.

“In most cases the fleet owners who requested not to have the drivers in control will have their technicians in charge,” Silbernagel told Truck West. “With that option you have to wait until the truck comes back and the information is then downloaded.”

The number of times the regeneration process will occur is dependent on the application in which the truck is being utilized. The panel noted however that during its testing period there was never a scenario when the regeneration process occurred more than one time per day.

“If you maintain a temperature of 270 C for extended periods of time the intervals between regeneration are longer. When you’re performing in applications with more sitting and idling for longer periods of time, then the regeneration process will be more often,” stated Silbernagel.

The regeneration process will create extremely high temperatures inside the DPF. Flex pipe will be replaced by stainless steel and stainless steel bellows will be placed between the turbocharger and the aftertreatment device to accommodate the increased temperatures. But operators should not be too concerned about tall grass or dry environments, noted the panel. The EPA has mandated that the skin temperature cannot be higher than that of a conventional exhaust and the DPF is wrapped in insulation to maintain a surface temperature of about 450 F.

The $65,000 question of the seminar was put to the panel in regards to the necessity of the device.

“If an end-user removes his aftermarket device will the vehicle run?” asked a member of the audience.

The simple reply, no. The aftertreatment canister will replace the muffler on newly manufactured trucks. On Western Star trucks the exhaust system can be configured with a horizontal DPF and vertical stacks, or as a vertical DPF. On Sterling trucks there are two options similar to those on the Western Star trucks, plus an additional option to conserve space behind the cab.

“The packaging is very clean,” explained Silbernagel. “The only thing in the back is an air dryer and the aftertreatment device. Another configuration will have the filter mounted under the passenger step.”

There are a number of different configurations available for the placement of other units such as air tanks, fuel tanks and battery boxes; but the different options are not expected to slow down delivery times of new vehicles.

“There will be no timeframe changes,” said Silbernagel. “We will actually try and reduce them by streamlining some of these options.”

Along with the aftertreatment device, Western Star and Sterling trucks will be outfitted with new radiators. As to not change the look of the trucks, the front frame of both brands has been expanded so the wider radiator will sit lower on the truck.

“One again, Sterling trucks will have to have modified front frames. The steel bracketing flares out to wrap around the radiator,” noted Silbernagel. “The radiator was widened and lowered so we didn’t have to raise the hood or modify the cab to fit it in there.”

On some of the models the radiator will be engine-mounted instead of frame-mounted, which the company says will aid in the cooling process. There will also be a hole in the radiator for a front driveline. The hole on a heavy-duty truck will be about 6-inches wide and about 11-inches tall, which will fit a driveline through it.

“It will allow us to offer higher horsepower on front engine PTOs than we offer today, so that’s some good news from these changes,” said Silbernagel.

Due to the number of changes to the makeup of the new trucks to meet the EPA standards, it may take some time before all products are made available to consumers.

“As of Jan. 1, unfortunately we won’t have everything done, the changes to the vehicles are so drastic. The higher volume vehicles, we made changes to those first,” explained Silbernagel. “By April 1, 2007 we will have the majority of the North American market available and by January 2008 all products will be fully available.”

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