In the year 2000, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continued with its ‘2007 Highway Rule’ to make heavy-duty on-road vehicles for instance trucks and buses run cleaner. According to the EPA, starting 2007, harmful pollution from heavy-duty highway vehicles was to be reduced by more than 90%. From 2010, diesel truck emissions were required to exhibit a 97% reduction in their sulfur content.
With the implementation of the new EPA requirements, 2010 brought significant changes in on-road diesel engine vehicles. Engine manufacturers have come up with advanced pollution control technology options for cars, trucks, and buses. It initiated with the implementation of exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) systems to reduce NOx, then advanced to the diesel particulate filter (DPF), and now selective catalytic reduction (SCR) which applies primarily to diesel vehicles manufactured in and after 2010. This technology uses ammonia to breakdown NOx emissions produced during diesel combustion, converting them into nitrogen and water. SCR has become the technology of choice for a majority of truck and engine manufacturers to meet EPA’s stringent emissions standards. The biggest advantage of SCR for the vehicle owner is fuel savings. As SCR deals with NOx outside the engine, so that manufacturers can fine tune their engines to run more efficiently and generate more power, which leads to a diminution in particulate matter, less frequent regeneration of the DPF, and increased fuel economy.
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Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) is injected into the exhaust stream just ahead of the SCR catalyst. It converts NOx into harmless nitrogen and water. This greatly reduces NOx, a significant contributor to greenhouse gases in the air, with the overall diesel emissions reduced by 90%. With the use of DEF, 2.6 million tons of smog-causing NOx emissions are predicted to be reduced every year.
DEF is a mixture of automotive-grade urea, high-purity, synthetic and deionized water. This liquid is clear, non-toxic, non-flammable, non-explosive, and generally non-hazardous. Additionally, it is classified as least risk for transportation. DEF is mixed at a ratio of 32.5% formaldehyde-free low biuret urea and 67.5& deionized water. Diesel exhaust fluid weighs 9.1 pounds per gallon which is heavier in comparison with diesel. While it freezes at 12°, its quality and composition are not affected by thawing or freezing. All DEF are designed to break down at elevated temperatures. Industry standard requirements specify storage between 23° F (-5° C) to 86° F (30° C) for maximum shelf life. DEF typically has a shelf life up to 2 years from the time of manufacture.
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DEF manufacturers strictly adhere to the ISO 22241 quality standards. In Europe, the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) controls the “AdBlue” trademark and uses it to safeguard that DEF quality standards are maintained in accord with DIN 70070, which is similar to the U.S.’s ISO 22241. DEF is provided in portable containers and bulk storage.
Growing environmental concerns and declining carbon emissions are forcing governments across the globe to focus on DEF to cut down nitrogen oxide emissions. Moreover, level-3 regulations introduced by the EPA of the U.S. aim at significantly reducing poisonous gases and offering guidelines to improve the fuel efficiency of diesel engines. This, coupled with rising automobile sales across the globe, is expected to boost the demand for diesel exhaust fluid by 2025. Furthermore, the introduction of hybrid selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) and selective catalytic reduction (SCR), which are cost-effective solutions incurring low capital as well as operational cost, are anticipated to further drive the global diesel exhaust fluid market during the forecast period.
Key market leaders include Brenntag North America, Cummins and Valvoline, Yara International ASA, GreenChem Solutions Ltd, China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (SINOPEC), Total S.A, and Shell Rotella (Royal Dutch Shell plc).