3 Reasons to Love Diesel Exhaust Fluid

Justin Christensen |

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Good things come in threes. You can probably think of a few right now – a BLT, the Three Stooges, a long weekend – the list is endless. Here’s one with a twist – how about a product that can save your health, the environment and your money all in one shot?

Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) is a liquid used with the Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology to rid diesel engines from the toxic emissions, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM). The system is one solution that was designed to meet new emissions standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for Heavy Duty Highway Engines and Vehicles in January 2010.

How it Works

Chemically speaking, diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) is a blended solution of 32.5 per cent urea and 67.5 per cent de-ionized water. The active ingredient, urea, is a derivative of natural gas that converts to ammonia under high heat. DEF most closely resembles water with a slight odor of ammonia. 

Depending on their size, DEF tanks are mounted either to the front or to the rear of the fuel tank and are identified with a blue lid. Small amounts of the solution are injected into exhaust gas from the engine where it vaporizes and breaks down to form carbon dioxide (CO2) and ammonia (NH3). As it passes through the SCR catalyst on the exhaust pipe, the NOx is converted to nitrogen and water, eliminating 90 per cent of toxins. 

The Benefits

  • Improves Health
    With improved air quality, everyone breathes easier. NOx and PM pollutants contribute to a number of health issues, including cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, chronic bronchitis, irritated asthma and impaired lung capacity. With improved standards, the EPA estimates thousands of premature deaths, hospital stays and 1.5 million sick days from work will be prevented, saving a whopping $70 billion by 2030.
  • Environmentally Friendly
    DEF is nontoxic, colorless, stable and nonpolluting, making it safe to handle and store. It also meets international standards for purity and composition.  All of these characteristics mean there is little to no threat for humans, wildlife, the environment or equipment when it is used correctly. And as DEF works to remove emissions, the ground-level ozone is reduced which means less smog.
  • Increases Engine Efficiency
    In conjunction with the SCR system, DEF eliminates toxic emissions after combustion. This allows manufacturers to tweak engines to the tune of greater power, reduced fuel consumption, and longer periods between oil changes. Fitting the SCR system does not require engine overhaul or extra cooling. Whether you own one truck or a fleet of trucks, you will extend the life of your vehicle and save 5 to 7 per cent in fuel costs. 

So, just how much DEF is needed to realize the benefits? The quantity of DEF used will be approximately 2 per cent of the diesel fuel consumed – OR – for every 50 gallons of fuel burned, you will need 1 gallon of DEF. Using a vehicle’s average fuel consumption, it’s a quick calculation. 

Here’s an example for a heavy-duty truck:

  • Annual miles for average truck = 120,000 miles
  • MPG for average truck = 6 mpg
  • 120,000 miles / 6 mpg = 20,000 gallons diesel fuel per year
  • DEF usage @ 2% of fuel consumption = 400 gallons of DEF / year
  • 400 gallons / 20 gallon tank (average size) = 20 DEF fill-ups / year
If you want to bring vehicles up to standard and reach your fuel potential, your fuel distributor can help in three key areas – Discovery, Strategy and Delivery. Through services such as evaluations, market analysis and state-of-the-art technology, the benefits of working with them will speak for themselves. They also deliver the right products at the right prices at the right time – good things come in threes.