2010: Not a tech odyssey

Meeting the 2010 emissions standards won’t be easy and will add more costs to commercial trucks, but it won’t be as detrimental as many fleets might think

FT. LAUDERDALE, FL. Meeting the 2010 emissions standards won’t be easy and will add more costs to commercial trucks, but it won’t be as detrimental as many fleets might think. In fact, it may actually boost fuel economy.

“We’re going to be using the same engine designs and diesel particulate filters [DPFs] in use now to meet the ’07 levels, so there won’t be any changes there,” said Ed Saxman, product manager-drivetrain for Volvo Trucks North America, during an engine manufacturers’ panel at PHH FirstFleet’s annual fleet management conference here yesterday.

“What is going to change is that we’re going to add an SCR [selective catalytic reduction] system to reduce NOx [oxides of nitrogen] emissions,” he noted. “While it’s still premature to talk about costs— more sensors and hardware will be required— it really isn’t complicated or even new technology. We’re already using it on many of our engines in Europe.”

Saxman said SCR works by injecting a mist of urea – a liquid compound composed of 34% ammonia and 66% water – into the truck’s exhaust stream, to convert NOx emissions into water vapor. He noted the entire SCR system, including the wiring, hoses, and urea container, wouldn’t be much larger than the DPFs currently in use.

“We don’t need a huge amount of urea either,” said Tim Tindall, director of component sales for Detroit Diesel Corp. (DDC) “Roughly for every 100 gallons of diesel fuel, you’ll only need one gallon of urea. We’re planning for a four or five gallon urea tank, which would add about 50 or 60 lbs to the truck.”

Saxman added that distribution of urea would be simple, too. He expects 2.6-liter bottles of the substance will be sold in truckstops so drivers can keep their urea tanks topped off.

Both Volvo and DDC are planning to use SCR on their 2010 engines and are already deep into testing prototype SCR systems. Caterpillar, according to district manager Eric Arnold, is still debating whether to use SCR or NOx adsorbers. A final decision is expected to be made by mid-April of this year.

The best thing about SCR, noted Saxman, is it may help engines makers substantially improve fuel economy. “The great thing about SCR is that you can tune it to handle higher emissions of NOx easily– meaning you can relax the NOx controls on the engine, letting NOx get cleaned up in the exhaust stream,” he said. “Right now, we’re looking at up to a 5% increase in fuel economy by using SCR– but this is only the beginning.”

To comment on this article, write to Sean Kilcarr at [email protected]

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