Although it will be some years before Euro 5 engines hit the South African market due to our fuel quality, it is heartening to know that Engen Petroleum is preparing for its introduction by having secured the exclusive distribution rights in sub-Saharan Africa for Air 1 – more commonly known as AdBlue.
AdBlue is a high-purity synthetic emission fluid that reduces nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from diesel engines’ exhaust gases. It is the registered trademark for AUS32, or Aqueous Urea Solution 32.5%. This is a 32.5% solution of high-purity urea in de-mineralised water that is clear, non-toxic and safe to handle.
Important to note is that a number of truck operators and truck manufacturers have linked hands in testing Euro 5 engines in preparation for the day when it is legislated. These include Fast ‘n Fresh, Triton Express, Volvo, Iveco, Scania, Mercedes-Benz and others – but it is on a low scale and not at all wide-spread. All these companies have sourced their own AdBlue for their tests.
Commercialised by Yara, the world’s biggest AdBlue producer, Air 1 is the world’s leading brand of AdBlue. Since 2006, it has been used in millions of heavy-duty vehicles around the world to reduce NOx emissions.
“Since 1996, exhaust emission limits have been lowered in Europe to help reduce the amount of harmful toxic gases released into the air by vehicle engines, including nitrogen oxides, which are main contributors to acid rain and the shrinking ozone layer,” says Sydney Bruckner, lubricants business manager at Engen Petroleum.
South Africa’s fuel producers currently work to Euro II and Euro III emission standards. “South Africa will only legislate Euro IV standards around the middle of the decade so the initial requirement for AdBlue will be fairly small but is expected to grow as more Euro IV vehicles enter the market. Whether truck owners have heard of Air 1 or AdBlue or not, chances are they may soon be driving trucks that require it.”
To comply with mandatory reduction in NOx emissions, diesel engine manufacturers have re-developed their engines, most commonly using a new technology called SCR or Selective Catalytic Reduction.
“If you have an SCR truck that requires AdBlue, you need to dispense a product like Air 1 into an existing separate tank already fitted to your vehicle,” says Bruckner, adding that AdBlue is not a fuel, nor is it mixed with fuel.
“It is used as after-treatment with diesel engines that have the new SCR technology. The system sprays the product into the exhaust gas going through the catalyst, converting it into harmless steam and nitrogen.”
Implementing SCR technology with AdBlue from Air 1 will yield a significant cost-cutting effect in terms of fuel consumption, Bruckner says. “Diesel consumption can be reduced by up to 10%.”
Bruckner says AdBlue from Air 1 needs to be replenished once with every two diesel refills. “Consumption will be approximately 5% by volume of diesel consumption but this will differ dependent on the type of machine and work undertaken.”
AdBlue from Air 1 is only available via Engen dealership outlets, says Bruckner. “It is important that truck owners purchase product in dedicated AdBlue sealed packaging. Contaminants from unsealed packaging will cause problems to your SCR system.”
One of the problems of introducing new technology engines that meet the Euro5 and Euro 6 standards is the availability – on a national basis – of the correct quality fuel along with AdBlue top ups. It is heartening to see that this problem is being addressed by Engen so that when Euro 5 legislation does comes in, operators will be able to fill up as well as top-up with AdBlue outside of their depots.