SCR consensus strengthens, but supply questions linger: Analyst

NEW YORK — There’s now little doubt that the vast majority of engine manufacturers are gearing up for selective catalyst reduction (SCR) as the solution to meet the most stringent round of emission controls yet.

A consultant who specializes in designing and developing urea dispensing systems told New York trucking market analyst firm Bear Stearns that there is now a “general consensus” among heavy truck OEMs that SCR will likely be the most practical technology for reaching EPA-mandated 2010 NOx-reduction standards.

The SCR system — which injects a nitrogen containing agent like urea into the exhaust gas upstream of the catalyst to further eliminate NOx emissions — is the technology that’s being used in Europe for meeting emission standards over there.

The EPA wants truck and engine OEMs to ensure they can
prevent truckers from driving ‘urealess’ when the tank is empty.

However, in order to prevent efficiency failure in required NOx adsorbers, the urea needs to be periodically replenished. With just over two years to go before the standard kicks-in, there still isn’t any viable urea infrastructure in place in North America.

Bear Stearns asked what steps the industry is currently taking to build a urea supply network ahead of the 2010 standards.

OEMs are reportedly starting to educate not only their customers but also the truck stops, private fleets, and dealers about what will be needed with respect to urea availability and storage.

Earlier this year, the EPA issued an SCR guidance to engine makers and OEMs regarding urea availability and what it expects the industry to do in preventing drivers from operating trucks with empty tanks. (Follow Related Stories link below to read that story).

While the industry seems to be making some headway on that front, the future price of urea could be a concern, Bear Stearns’ contact explained. Strong demand for fertilizer and animal feed (which are components of urea) in the agricultural market could keep supply somewhat scarce for the transportation sector in some regions.

As a result, the industry source speculated that some OEMs may reconsider using NOx adsorbers to meet 2010 emissions standard if urea prices continue to climb.

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