Adding Blue to Go Green

Created: 08.March 2021

According to the National Automotive Policy 2020, commercial vehicles were to start using Euro V engines as of September 2020. While this may be delayed, we take a look at what an eventual introduction of the emission norm means in more detail.

Commenting on this issue is Tom Kuiphuis, Presales Director of Scania Southeast Asia “Since Heavy commercial vehicles with a Euro V engine need Adblue aka Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF), it is crucial that by then this is widely available in Malaysia for an attractive consumer price. At Scania Malaysia we are wondering when the roll out of AdBlue to the gas stations throughout Malaysia will take place. We would like to get a better understanding of how this is planned.”

What is Adblue?

Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), also commonly known as Adblue, is a urea-based solution that used in conjunction with a selective catalytic reduction system installed in the exhaust reduces harmful nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel engines. DEF is composed of 32.5 percent high-purity urea and 67.5 percent deionized water. DEF is clear, odourless and safe to handle.

The solution is added to a separate storage tank in diesel-powered vehicles equipped with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology. The fluid is injected into the hot exhaust stream of the vehicle and helps break down the nitrogen oxide gases in the exhaust into nitrogen gas and water vapour, both harmless to the environment.
An Inexpensive and Efficient option for Lowering NOx Emissions

Nitrogen oxide (NOx) is produced from the exhaust of diesel vehicles and is a major contributor to smog and other air pollution. Exposure to NOx can also lead to respiratory and heart disease. This is why in 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandated that all new diesel engine vehicles reduce NOx emission levels by 90 percent.

Improved Engine Performance and Fuel Efficiency
According to some sources, the combination of DEF and SCR technology not only reduces NOx emissions, it actually improves a vehicle’s horsepower by making diesel engines run more efficiently, resulting in fuel savings of up to eight percent.

Easy to Use
Any diesel vehicle with SCR technology can use Adblue. There are no special filters or absorbers required. The driver simply fills their AdBlue tank periodically and the SCR technology handles the rest. Diesel exhaust fluid costs about the same as diesel fuel, but a litre will generally last about 100 -400 kilometres. Since the EPA regulations came into effect, SCR technology is quickly becoming the industry-standard on new diesel vehicles.

Widely Available
Euro V and Euro VI emission norms have been introduced in a number of countries. As a result, many truck stops or petrol stations now offer diesel exhaust fluid that can be pumped directly into the respective tank. It can also be bought in easy-to-handle containers in various sizes at auto stores, petrol stations and other retailers. In Singapore, several companies have started their own production of AdBlue, under their own brand name.

Don’t Go Without It

As with many other functions of your truck, you need to use them in the right way to be most effective and you may damage the vehicle. If you don’t use Urea you:

1) won’t get the emission level the engine is designed for. Since there is no exhaust after treatment, it is basically a Euro ‘nothing’.
2) stop Adblue from ‘flowing’. The water will evaporate and the Urea will crystalize. After some time it clogs up the mixer and injector and it will result in a (potentially expensive) repair to get it back to function.
3) don’t fulfill the NOx levels the engine is designed for and depending on the engine management, the engine will give reduced power when NOx levels are exceeding the limits. Depending on the programming you may not be able to start the engine again once switched off.

However, some imported trucks are still intact with the SCR technology bolted onto the engine. An source that would like to remain anonymous told Asian Trucker that No 3 is often bypassed in Malaysia with a ‘gadget’ that simulates the right NOx level. 1) and 2) still remain in that case.

What Transporters Think
We asked Benjamin Phang, Trucking Consultant, about his views about this change. First we wanted to know if he thinks that transporters can bear the cost of high tech trucks that would have Euro 5 Engines. “Except for petroleum company transporters and other specific chemical transporters, I don't see transporters requiring such high tech vehicles given the cut throat transport prices on offer.”

He further stated that fuel efficiency is not really a key factor, given the cost of diesel in relation to transport prices is based mainly on overloading. One of his concerns is that the distribution network for AdBlue will not be ready when the emission norm will come into effect.

There are certain aspects impacting the daily operation of a transport company. Making sure that a truck has sufficient AdBlue is a step that needs to be done as a pre-drive check. He reckons that our drivers are diligent enough to carry out these tasks though Phang said "That is not a problem, given the training.” At the same time, he does not see any advantage for certain truck brands as generally truck owners are very price conscious.

“Is the transport industry has been educated about this coming change and is prepared for this change? That is a big NO. The MOT is not at all active in this respect. SPAD, now APAD, was enacted to take the transport industry forward but what was intended did not measured up to what was implemented.”