Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) is here to stay. All light, medium, and heavy duty trucks created in 2010 and newer are now incorporating DEF tanks. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pushing towards enforcing the Clean Air. By doing this, EPA is hoping to reduce, or at least regulate the dangerous NOx emissions that are given off by vehicles. Diesel vehicles happen to be one of the top contributors to the NOx emissions. DEF was created to help reduce these emissions.
Diesel exhaust fluid is a nonhazardous solution that is sprayed down into the exhaust stream of all diesel vehicles. This solution is made of 32.5% of urea and 67.5% of deionized water. This solution helps to break down the dangerous NOx emissions into nitrogen and water. Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) is the system that helps break down the emissions. These SCR systems can be found on light, medium, heavy duty diesel trucks made in 2010 or newer, diesel pickups, and SUVs.
SCR technology uses a catalyst system (ammonia) to break down NOx emissions, which are produced by modern diesel engines, into nitrogen and H2O. Automotive applications in SCR deliver ammonia through a urea solution, otherwise known as diesel exhaust fluid. SCR is the technology of choice for the majority of truck and engine manufacturers to meet the 2010 emissions standards set by the EPA.
Besides helping the environment, the biggest benefit of selective catalytic reduction systems for diesel vehicle owners is the fuel saving the technology provides. Since SCR deals with the emissions given off by the exhaust pipe, engineers are able to tune the engine to provide more torque and reduced fuel consumption.
Since it has been required to incorporate diesel exhaust fluid into a diesel vehicle, all 2010 and newer model diesel vehicles have to have the diesel exhaust fluid tank on them to help keep emissions to a minimum. With this in effect, this also means that DEF now plays an important part in how the vehicle runs. DEF has to be in the vehicle in order to help keep the vehicle running in top shape. However, this means that a vehicle running low on diesel exhaust fluid will experience a large cut in performance. Meaning that should a driver run out of DEF whilst driving, the vehicle will be forced to move only at 5 MPH, along with power reduction, until the DEF tank has been refilled again.
Usually, with DEF being required by the EPA, gas stations, truck stops, and most automotive shops; Truck-N-Trailer being one of the handfuls of places in Oklahoma that stock BlueDEF by PEAK Commercial and Industrial; are allowed to carry diesel exhaust fluid.
Handling DEF is safe. It is a nontoxic, nonflammable, nonexplosive solution. It is deemed as a minimum risk for transportation. It is also safe if it comes in contact with skin. However, though it is safe for human contact, the only problem is the solution can be easily contaminated. For example, say we have 5,000 gallons of DEF, with just a single teaspoon of sand or salt, the entire batch of DEF is ruined.
With this being said, manufacturers that make diesel vehicles have made it incredibly difficult for a contamination error to happen. This is done by making the filler necks different sizes (DEF is 0.75 inches (19mm) and 0.87 inches (22 mm) for diesel) to ensure that confusion does not occur. For instance, should diesel mix with DEF or vice versa, the entire system, whether it be SCR or the diesel take, will need to be thoroughly serviced, or even replaced.
The same goes for putting DEF into the fuel tank. The diesel then becomes contaminated, and if the DEF were to remain in the tank along with the diesel, then it will cause damage to the fuel tank, thus needing it to be replaced.
Diesel exhaust fluid will soon come to play a large part in the diesel vehicles that are now being made. Especially since EPA requires that the emissions given off by diesel vehicles are limited. Within in the near distant future, it may be possible to see DEF pumps at every gas station.