Diesel Exhaust Fluid FAQs
To reduce environmental pollution and promote cleaner diesel emissions, EPA standards were revised in 2010 to significantly reduce harmful NOx (oxides of nitrogen emitted from engines) levels from new trucks.
As a result, original equipment manufacturers and many trucking fleets have chosen selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology as a way to reduce NOx emissions and improve fuel economy and reliability without changing the design or operation of the basic engine.
SCR technology, which is incorporated into most new trucks, requires the addition of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) into the exhaust stream to convert NOx into nitrogen and water vapor — two harmless and natural components of the air we breathe.
PEAK Commercial & Industrial, makers of the leading BlueDEF® Diesel Exhaust Fluid, have answered ten common questions about DEF to help you keep your fleet on track with changing EPA standards and maximize vehicle performance. 1. What is DEF? DEF is a mixture of high purity synthetic automotive grade urea and deionized water. It is not a diesel additive. 2. Who uses DEF? Most diesel-powered on-road vehicles produced since 2010 utilize SCR technology and require DEF. This includes heavy-duty trucks, diesel pick-ups, delivery vans and European luxury cars. Diesel-powered off-road equipment such as agricultural and construction equipment has been required to use SCR technology since 2014. 3. Where is it stored? DEF is stored in a dedicated tank next to the fuel tank on the driver’s side on most vehicles. The tank fill opening is designed to accommodate a DEF fill nozzle to ensure only DEF is put into the truck — it is nearly impossible to add diesel fuel accidentally. 4. Is DEF safe to handle? DEF is non-hazardous, non-toxic, non-flammable and non-explosive. It is classified as minimum risk for transportation and is safe if it touches skin. 5. Is DEF prone to contamination? Yes. SCR systems are extremely sensitive to chemical impurities in the urea solution. Just one teaspoon of salt can contaminate 5,000 gallons of DEF — purity is critical to ensuring proper function. 6. What should I know about storing and handling DEF? Product integrity is critical to ensure DEF is preserved. DEF should be stored and dispensed in equipment manufactured in accordance to the strict ISO 22241 standards, not petroleum equipment. All wetted materials should be DEF compatible, including tanks, piping, hoses, nozzles, fittings and seals. Utilizing proper equipment throughout distribution will protect DEF integrity and avoid equipment failure. 7. Are there weather limitations drivers should be aware of? The shelf life of DEF is directly related to the temperature at which it is stored. Storage temperatures between 12° and 86°F are recommended to maintain optimal shelf life of up to two years. DEF does freeze at 12°F, but a vehicle’s heating system will melt DEF so it is completely safe to operate a diesel vehicle under this temperature. 8. How much DEF do I need? DEF is consumed at a rate of approximately 3-5% by volume to diesel consumption. PEAK Commercial & Industrial provides a DEF quantity calculator that helps determine the amount of DEF needed for an entire fleet based on the number of SCR systems the fleet employs, the average number of miles driven and the average miles per gallon per vehicle. 9. What happens if I run out of DEF? Most diesel vehicles are equipped with a DEF gauge on the dash to alert the driver on the fluid level. If the level becomes low, an alert will let the driver know the DEF level needs to be replenished. If the driver runs out completely, the vehicle power will be reduced to encourage the operator to refill the DEF tank. Once the DEF tank is refilled, normal power levels will be restored on the vehicle. 10. Where can I buy DEF? DEF is available at a number of truck stops and retail locations nationwide, where it can be purchased in jugs or at the pump, as well as through fleet suppliers that can deliver large quantities to facilities. Fleet managers and drivers can use PEAK’s BlueDEF locator to find the nearest product retailers based on a current ZIP code or city and state.
While tightened regulations may at first seem to pose an obstacle to drivers and operators of heavy-duty equipment, the growth of SCR technology and continued development of DEF instead provides the industry with a fairly simple way to reduce harmful NOx emissions and improve fuel economy. DEF Standards set by the International Standards Organization (ISO) and American Petroleum Institute (API) regulate the production of DEF to guarantee quality products are available to supply diesel engines nationwide. PEAK Commercial & Industrial’s BlueDEF® is manufactured in accordance to the strict ISO 22241 standards, ensuring you get the highest quality DEF you can buy.
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