The DEF Roll Out Ramps Up

On Jan. 1, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act mandated that all on-road diesel vehicles manufactured must reduce harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. These stricter emissions standards includes class 1 to class 8 heavy duty vehicles.

The leading technology to meet this mandate is to inject diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) into the exhaust of vehicles using Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology. DEF is a non-toxic, high quality, urea solution. When sprayed into the exhaust, it is then hydrolyzed before the catalytic converter breaks down NOx into nitrogen and water.

The consumption of DEF is approximately 3 percent of the diesel fuel consumption, for example, for every 100 gallons of diesel consumed, 3 gallons of DEF would be needed. How to provide DEF continues to pose a challenge for retailers, especially those that are off-highway, although some major chains are ramping up their offerings.

Pilot Flying J announced this fall that the company is offering DEF at the pump at more than 1,100 fueling lanes at 175 nationwide locations, up from 600 fueling lanes at 135 locations previously. The company plans on making DEF available at 1,800 fuel lanes at 300 Pilot Flying J locations by May 1, 2012.

Love’s Travel Stops says it will be offering bulk DEF at all chain locations with the next year and a half. Travel Centers of America expects to install nearly 65 on-island DEF dispensers at locations across the country in the coming months. Installations will utilize new dispenser and POS systems that will make purchasing DEF quicker, more efficient and customer friendly. Currently, all TA and Petro branded locations currently offer 2.5 gallon containers of DEF.

Yara, the world’s largest DEF producer, launched the first ever DEF mobile locator application for Android mobile devices this past October. The company had previously introduced the Air1 DEF Mobile Locator app for the iPhone; now the Android version will use GPS technology to find the retail outlets closest to the driver’s location to make finding DEF easier.

 Along with the reduction in NOx emissions, SCR technology also has the added benefit of improving fuel efficiency. Some existing fleets with 2010 heavy duty trucks have reported fuel savings of around 5 percent compared to similar 2007 models.  At a recent Diesel Emissions Conference put on by Integer Research, PepsiCo’s fuel optimization manager, James Thomas, said the fuel efficiency gains of PepsiCo’s SCR  equipped trucks led to savings as high as 20 percent.

Kim Doran, the chief executive officer of Quixote Group Research, estimates the annual need for DEF to operate SCR-equipped trucks will be roughly 101.6 million gallons per year. Yara estimates the market for DEF in 2012 will go up to 130 million gallons.

‘The DEF market is certainly on the uptick,” said Chad Dombroski, director Air1 of Yara. ‘The truck sales are dictating that increase.”

Many fleet companies are starting to look to DEF.  He said that they are seeing DEF is a good product, it’s easy to use and has some reportedly great benefits of fuel economy. Plus, since it’s a lower cost product, fleets can save on fuel costs. Thus, companies are converting more trucks more quickly.

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