The Clean Air Act of 1970 paved the way for the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been constantly evolving and enacting laws to address the country’s environmental requirements for 46 years. For many years, owners of three-quarter and one-ton light-duty pickup trucks were not required to install additional smog equipment. All of that changed in 2008, when the Environmental Protection Agency mandated the use of diesel particulate filters on all three-quarter-ton and larger vehicles, as well as biannual smog testing that included a visual assessment of the truck to ensure the DPF parts were still there. The rules were tightened even more in 2010.
Many people believed that the age of enormous power and torque was finished, and they resolved to never buy another vehicle. However, something fantastic occurred, as well as the polar opposite. Americans have proven to be adaptable and resilient. Every manufacturer worked out a way to reduce NOx emissions while still producing more horsepower and torque than ever before. Strife yields bread, and bread yields innovation.
The application of selective catalytic reduction was the engineering breakthrough. To break down the created NOx into harmless nitrogen and water molecules, the great majority of these systems use diesel exhaust fluid (a mixture of urea and deionized water) injected into the exhaust system. Since the introduction of DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid), also known as after-treatment technology, in the exhaust, the manufacturer is free to create as much power as they like. The DEF is kept in a separate tank that is insulated and heated, with a blue filler cap to identify it.
Despite the effort around technology breakthroughs, there are still two factions of diesel guys out there: those who have accepted the EPA modifications and those who are still adamantly opposed to any limits. There has been a transition to older used diesel engines or remanufactured diesel engines that have been grandfathered in for individuals who are unable to accept the modifications. The purpose of this essay is to lay forth the cold hard facts concerning DEF and to educate the public on how to make better diesel operator decisions.
What exactly is Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF)?
DEF is a mixture of 67.5 percent deionized water and 32.5 percent urea from a chemical standpoint. Urea is a nitrogen chemical that, when heated, converts to ammonia and is employed in a range of industries. Although urea is technically produced from a urine waste, it is synthesized for mass manufacture. The American Petroleum Institute regulates most DEF products. Let’s look at the science of DEF in combination with exhaust. DEF is made up of two parts: (NH2)2CO and (NH2)2CO. When injected into hot exhaust gas, the water evaporates, leaving ammonia and isocyanic acid.
STEP 2: With water, the isocyanic acid breaks down chemically into carbon dioxide and ammonia:
STEP 3: At this step in the chemical reaction, ammonia will decrease nitrogen oxides in the presence of oxygen and a catalyst:
2(NH2)2CO + 4NO + O2 = 4N2 + 4H2O + 2CO2; 2(NH2) 2CO + 3NO2 = 7/2N2 + 4H2O + 2CO2; 2(NH2) 2CO + 3NO2 = 7/2N2 + 4H2O + 2CO2; 2(NH2) 2CO + 3NO2 = 7/2N2 + 4H2O + 2CO2; 2(NH2) 2CO + 3NO2
How Often Do You Need To Fill Up the DEF Tank?
This is a question that is specifically dependent on the diesel truck’s MPG and usage. The usual average light duty truck will require 2-3 gallons of DEF per 800 miles, regardless of the load, according to the OE manufacturer. Most new trucks with an average miles per gallon rating of 20+mpg, on the other hand, will travel 8,000-10,000 miles on a tank full of DPF (10 gallons). Each vehicle is different; for example, a Dodge Ram has a gauge that shows how much DEF is left in the tank, while a GM truck has a digital readout and a Ford truck has a basic low DEF indicator.
Fuel models for medium and heavy duty trucks will vary, but DEF usage will be around 2% of total fuel consumption, according to Cummins Filtration. One gallon of DEF is used for every 50 gallons of diesel fuel used. Here are some forecasts from our friends at Cummins Filtration for Medium and Heavy Duty Consumption:
Where can you buy DEF?
Don’t be tricked by thinking that DEF can be purchased just about everywhere. DEF is typically sold in large bottles holding numerous gallons of the substance at truck stops. If you’re in a pinch, some petrol stations will have DEF, but don’t bank on it. It is critical to note that if you do not refill an empty DEF tank, the engine will shut down automatically. Because DEF isn’t offered everywhere, you don’t want to be trapped anywhere with an empty tank. TravelCenters of America, Walmart, Target, Love’s Travel Shop, SAPP Brothers, Flying J Truck Stops, Petro Stopping Centers, and Pilot Travel Centers, O’Reilly’s, NAPA, and Advanced Auto are all common places to buy DEF. We’ve also put together a list of the most popular DEF manufacturers.
What are the Pros and Cons of a DEF Truck?
DEF has few drawbacks because it is a relatively straightforward technique. However, because the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) and Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) are prone to clogging, they can cause a slew of maintenance and repair concerns. These systems are intricately designed, and even a simple blocked filter can result in pressure and temperature differentials that influence the engine’s overall performance.
The only disadvantages of DEF are the higher initial cost, added weight, and the need for more storage space for an extra gallon of the fluid. Better fuel economy, more horsepower, more optimized combustion, fewer regeneration troubles, less engine wear, and it only emits nitrogen and water vapor into the air are some of the benefits.
Is emissions production really an important issue?
Whether it’s a major concern or not is debatable, given that all light-medium diesel engines built after 2008 must meet with EPA regulations. Smog, greenhouse gas emissions, and acid rain have all been linked to NOx emissions. The DEF converts NOx into pure nitrogen and water vapor as part of the Selective Catalytic Reduction system (SCR). Climate change is a contentious issue, but we can all agree that adding additional gasses to the atmosphere of any kind isn’t something we need.
Will DEF Lower My Fuel Mileage?
It is natural to believe that any EPA-mandated alterations to the diesel engine will be detrimental, but this is not the case. The big diesel makers learned that they could fine-tune the engine in whatever way they wanted, then let the SRC and DEF remove the particles. The engines are designed with performance in mind first, and then the SRC, DPF, and DEF are added as an afterthought to remove what is no longer required. Manufacturers have discovered that engines with SCR technology achieve better fuel mileage than engines with conventional internal pollution reduction systems. Fuel fed to the SCR provides an additional supply of components to burn. It is possible to increase fuel mileage by as much as 5% to 7%.
Has this new DEF Technology Ever Been Used Before?
DEF technology has been employed in agriculture, industry, and large-scale power generation in the country for decades. The premise is the same everywhere: urea combined with heat produces ammonia, which induces a chemical reaction that reduces NOx by 70% to 95%. In fact, nitrogen-released fertilizer accounts for 90% of urea production. It’s worth noting that automotive-grade urea has a far higher purity level than fertilizer-grade urea. If a lower-grade fertilizer, urea, is used in vehicle engines, the SCR may disintegrate, causing the engine to fail. It could even cause ECM sensors to issue an inaccurate DEF Tank Empty signal.
Does DEF Evaporate After A Period of Disuse?
Yes and no are the answers. With the valves wide open, the temperature at which DEF combines with NOx exhaust immediately out of the cylinder head is between 1400-1600 F. The chemical reaction occurs at substantially higher temperatures than those experienced on a hot summer day. For example, converting the DPF to ammonia and evaporating it would take two years at a steady temperature of 125 degrees F. However, because DEF is roughly 2/3 water, any temperature above 86 F risks some evaporation. Unless exposed to consistent hot climes, you won’t have to worry about a gallon or two of the stuff going bad or evaporating from inactivity.
Is DEF a Toxic and Harmful Chemical?
Urea, the active element in DEF, has been chemically produced since 1828, when German chemist Friedrich Wöhler used ammonium chloride to treat silver cyanate. Herman Boerhaave, a Dutch chemist, was the first to detect urea in urine in 1727. Urea is mostly employed in agricultural fertilizers, but it is also found in the chemical industry, explosives, lotions, skin creams, hair removers, plastics, dish washes, and fuel cells. Humans are not extremely poisonous to urea and, as a result, DEF. Urea can irritate the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract, but it is not dangerous. High quantities of urea in the blood can be dangerous to humans, however absorption of modest doses of urea, when accompanied by proper water intake, is not. In nature, urea can induce algal blooms, which can produce harmful fumes when it decomposes over its melting or heating threshold. When nitrites are mixed with certain oxidants, such as chlorides, they can create fires or even explosions.
What happens to the engine if the DEF Tank is empty?
The EPA now requires all diesel engine manufacturers to include a tiered warning system (internal gauges on the dash) that tells the driver how near the DEF tank is to being empty. The truck will stop working if you ignore the DEF warning. Some diesel engine manufacturers allow the engine to go into low-power mode, allowing the truck to “limp home” or limiting the number of times the engine can be turned over. However, the diesel engine would eventually fail to start. Treat the DEF tank as if it were a fuel tank; you don’t want to be stranded somewhere because you forgot to replace it.
Does DEF Have a Low Freeze Point?
At 12 degrees Fahrenheit, the normal 32.5 percent DEF solution begins to crystallize and freeze. When urea and water are combined in DEF, they both freeze at the same time. This is advantageous to the user because the DEF solution does not get diluted or too concentrated as the fluid thaws. The product’s grade is unaffected by freezing and thawing cycles. When DEF is frozen, it expands by 6.5 percent to 7% by volume. Freezing periods are accommodated by the packing.
What is the best method to keep DEF from freezing?
Keeping a gallon or two of DEF in your vehicle is totally safe, but it is not recommended. At 86 degrees Fahrenheit, DEF begins to degrade. It’s all too easy to forget about the DEF in the rear of your vehicle, and given enough hot days, the fluid can become unstable and degrade, but at a very slow rate. A diluted DEF without the 32.5 percent urea combination can be harmful to DEF and SCR, however this is a rare occurrence. As a result, on exceptionally cold days below 12 degrees Fahrenheit, DEF will freeze in the DEF tank. This is totally normal and will have no negative impact on the engine. The SCR systems are intended to give heat to the DEF tank, allowing the tank and related supply lines to thaw quickly.
Can I add anti-freezing solution to the DEF mixture to keep it from freezing?
DEF has a relatively specific formula consisting of 32.5 percent urea and water, but it also contains additional compounds in trace amounts to help stabilize the product. The precise chemical makeup of the mixture would be disrupted by an addition, lowering the NOx reduction characteristics. The DEF mixture’s ability to function effectively will be jeopardized by further blending, and the SCR system will be harmed.
How is the production of DEF regulated and can I make my own?
It is not advisable for direct consumers to make their own DEF. DEF is strictly regulated, has stringent standards for chemical purity, and comprises chemicals that are critical to the SCR system’s operation. DEF must be utilized with SCR systems and meet all ISO norms and API requirements, according to Caterpillar, Cummins, and Detroit Diesel, among others. The American Petroleum Institute (API) has a wholly voluntary program that confirms the chemical purity of DEF and that manufacturers fulfill ISO requirements. API Certification is achieved by all major DEF brands present on the consumer market.
What is the shelf life of DEF?
The batch of DEF will last around two years if it is stored at ambient temperatures of 75 degrees Fahrenheit with no large periods of exposure to heat above 86 degrees Fahrenheit. If a package of DEF is heated over an extended amount of time, the fluid will last about a year.
Who are the major manufacturers of DEF Fluid?
DEF Fluid is made by a variety of companies. DEF can be purchased for about $2-$3 per gallon at most large truck stops, auto parts stores, and convenience stores, according to the website “Oilmen Truck Tanks.”
How can you determine the age of a container of DEF?
A manufacturers date can be found somewhere on every DEF package. It’s most likely near the bottom of the front of the packaging. This date code will reveal the precise date the batch was manufactured, as well as the age of the DEF bottle. A laser code is inscribed on the bottle of one gallon containers. A little date code is frequently placed on the product label of larger 2-5 gallon tanks. A larger label will be put on the side or top of larger DEF fluid drums (55 gallons or more) and totes (275-355 gallons). Reading a manufacturer’s code is difficult, as each one is slightly different. The batch number is usually represented by the first digit of the date code, and the next six digits reflect the date the batch was filled at the factory.
How do you identify a DEF Filling Pump Vs. a Diesel Fuel Pump?
A number of safeguards have been put in place to prevent diesel engine fuel from being injected into the DEF tank and vice versa. “The color “green” is the standard for diesel filling stations and pumps around the world. “The color “blue” has been chosen as the symbol for DEF fluid. DEF is dispensed by a normal 19 mm nozzle, while diesel fuel is dispensed through a 22 mm nozzle. As a last line of defense, the tank cap on almost all trucks should be a “brightly colored blue” to prevent diesel from entering the DEF tank.
What should I do if I accidentally dispense diesel fuel into the DEF?
First and foremost, do not be alarmed. Second, do not start the engine under any circumstances. If you don’t start the engine, putting diesel fuel in the DEF and vice versa (DEF in the fuel tank) will not hurt it. The SCR should detect the presence of a solution other than DEF in the tank and alert the driver through the dashboard ECM readout. It’s also crucial to avoid moving the vehicle. The distribution of fuel into the lines and into the SCR might be caused by moving the vehicle. Draining the tank while the vehicle is still in its original location is the best option. If the engine is started for even a short time, diesel fuel will destroy the SCR catalyst, which is highly expensive to replace and is no longer covered by the manufacturer’s guarantee. If DEF gets into the fuel system and spreads throughout the engine, it will eventually destroy the diesel engine. The DEF is incompatible with the gasoline system lines, which corrode with time.
Is diesel exhaust fluid expensive?
Every time you replace your oil, an usual tankful of DEF will need to be refilled. It’s also largely water, so it won’t break the bank. A 2.5-gallon pack of BlueDEF (rather than the stuff your dealer could sell) will cost you less than $20.
How often do you refill diesel exhaust fluid DEF?
DEF (diesel exhaust fluid) has fast become a must-have on every construction site. The fluid, which is designed to minimize car emissions, works by treating exhaust gases after they have exited the engine. With DEF fluid becoming more important, read these recommendations for correct use to get the most out of your equipment.
DEF is a combination of purified water and urea used in diesel engines.
The formula is stable, colorless, non-toxic, and has an alkalinity similar to baking soda (pH). It is not a fuel, but it is used to lower the amount of nitrogen oxides in the exhaust to comply with pollution regulations.
DEF is fed into the exhaust in the Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system. It transforms NO2 to nitrogen gas and water vapor, both of which are innocuous air constituents.
The recommended temperature range for storing DEF is 32°F to 86°F, and it has a three-year shelf life. DEF should not be stored in direct sunlight or at temperatures below 32°F. DEF fluid must be stored in plastic or stainless steel containers due to its alkalinity, which can induce oxidization in the same manner that oxygen rusts raw steel.
- The aperture in DEF tanks is designed to only receive a DEF fill nozzle. The DEF tank aperture will not fit a conventional diesel fuel nozzle. Only the right fluid can be injected into the tank because of this protection.
- Depending on the size and horsepower of your equipment, DEF tanks can carry anywhere from 15 to 50 gallons. Make sure you have enough reserves on hand since if the DEF tank is dry, the equipment will stop working.
- Most modern equipment now includes a DEF gauge that displays the fluid level and indicates when it’s time to replace.
- When the DEF fluid level falls below 10% capacity, the operator will get a series of alerts.
- The equipment engine power will de-rate if the DEF tank contains less than 5% of its capacity. However, there will be enough power to drive a short distance so that more fluid may be added to the tank.
- Every 3 to 4 times you refuel with diesel fuel, you must fill the DEF tank once. The frequency will change depending on the circumstances.
How often do you change diesel exhaust fluid?
When it’s time to change your DEF, all newer diesel vehicles include a dashboard warning system. To figure out how much you’ll need, you’ll need to know your engine’s efficiency.
When compared to the amount of fuel used, DEF is consumed at a rate of roughly 2-3%. For a car with a 65-gallon gas tank, this means between 1.2 and 2.0 gallons of DEF will be necessary. DEF should be replenished every third or fourth time you fill up a five-gallon DEF tank. The simplest method to avoid an issue is to simply top off on a regular basis.
Why is diesel exhaust fluid so expensive?
Because of its high urea content and the higher quality of urea required to make DEF, urea prices frequently dictate the cost of DEF. Urea prices increased to $442 per ton in June, up from $380 in May, according to Jobbers World.
What happens when you run out of diesel exhaust fluid?
Vehicle makers must implement procedures to ensure that vehicles cannot run without Diesel Exhaust Fluid, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (DEF). The driver of a vehicle receives a succession of alerts on their dashboard displays before the DEF tank runs out (much the same way as if they were running low on diesel). In general, an amber warning bulb will illuminate when the DEF tank level drops below 10%, flashing at 5%, and solid amber warning light will illuminate when the DEF tank level dips below 2.5 percent.
The engine’s power is lowered, a solid red warning is displayed, and the vehicle’s speed is limited to 5 mph until the DEF tank is refilled if the truck is allowed to run out of DEF.
Will DEF freeze in my truck?
DEF, whether in storage tanks or equipment, can freeze and cause problems. When temperatures dip below 12°F, DEF begins to crystallize and ceases to function properly. Because of the precise ratio utilized, the entire mixture can freeze and thaw together like water and ice.
Is there a diesel exhaust fluid shortage?
You may have never heard of urea, but the chemical compound’s worldwide shortage may bring Australia’s supply chain to a halt in a matter of weeks.
The molecule, which is a vital ingredient in the diesel exhaust fluid AdBlue and a major component in fertilizer, is in low supply around the world.
The main cause of the scarcity is China’s prohibition on urea exports, which previously supplied 80 percent of Australia’s urea supplies. This is because the price of fertilizer has risen dramatically, and China wants to curb the rate of increase.
However, because urea is sprayed into the exhaust systems of modern diesel cars to lower emissions, which is a necessity for trucks, passenger vehicles, and tractors, this could inadvertently take many of Australia’s trucks off the road.
So, what is urea, and how serious is the supply chain disruption in Australia?
What year did diesel exhaust fluid start?
When it comes to diesel engines, the agency has tightened rules since 1970. Prior to 2008, no one had to be concerned about the emissions that their equipment or vehicles produced; however, the first step was taken when the EPA mandated the installation of diesel particle filters on all 3/4-ton and bigger trucks. The EPA introduced diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) 2010 with the purpose of further decreasing engine emissions, particularly NOx and particulate matter. NOx and particulate matter were connected to a variety of respiratory and cardiovascular ailments, resulting in thousands of additional hospitalizations and deaths, according to their research.
With DEF being mandated by the EPA, you will find most new diesel trucks, SUVs, cars, and machinery are manufactured with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology and a DEF tank that needs to be filled.
When DEF is sprayed into the exhaust stream after combustion, the magic happens, removing the worry of power or torque loss. Once the DEF and hot gases chemically interact, the once-harmful NOx and particulate matter are converted to nitrogen and water, which is then expelled from the exhaust.
While many owners of SCR vehicles have reported greater reliability and longer oil change intervals, it is crucial that the DEF tank does not run dry.
Many engine manufacturers have installed numerous warning lights when the DEF level drops too low – and if it does, the engine’s performance will be reduced to keep the speed limited until the tank is full.
A common assumption is that owners need to fill their DEF with each time they fill their fuel tank, however this is false.
The typical rate of DEF usage is 2.5 gallons per 800 miles travelled, depending on how much you’re hauling. DEF is now accessible at the pump or in jugs inside gas stations, as it has become a requirement in an increasing number of automobiles. It is also strongly advised that you do not attempt to make your own DEF due to the necessity of having the right mixture to avoid damaging your vehicle’s SCR system.
Instead, purchase DEF in portable containers, at the pump, or in bulk quantities to be kept in a refillable bulk DEF tank at truck stops, retail sites, and fleet oil distributors, depending on your needs.
How long will diesel fuel last in a tank?
In temperatures of 85 degrees, diesel fuel can last for 6 to 12 months. The fuel will then start to react with the oxygen in the tank. Diesel may become sticky as a result of this interaction. If diesel turns sticky, it can block fuel filters, causing engine problems. The sticky fuel will not burn properly, resulting in a film of soot and carbon on the engine’s inside. One possibility is to apply oxidation-resisting stability treatments.
Degradation of diesel fuel can also be caused by other sources. Fungus can grow in the presence of water in the fuel. Fungi can produce organic chemicals that break down diesel molecules. The gumming process can be accelerated by high temperatures. When metals like zinc and copper come into contact with diesel fuel, they can trigger a chemical reaction. Certain chemicals have been shown to hasten the aging process.