News & Events

A Short Course in DEF

Brent Peffer, Sales Representative

Author: Marketing/Friday, June 3, 2016/Categories: News, Best Practices, Safety, Industry Standards, EPA

If you work in the trucking industry, drive for a fleet or even a heavy-duty pickup truck, you may already be familiar with Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF), but do you know why it's become an industry standard?

DEF is a material that was developed to be injected into the diesel engine exhaust stream to control the creation of Nitrogen Oxides (normally called NOx). NOx is an element of exhaust that has been linked to acid rain, smog, and an increase in greenhouse gases. DEF converts NOx into water (H2O) and Nitrogen (N2), which are harmless and then released through the exhaust.

DEF is only one part of the conversion process and requires a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) assembly to be installed in the exhaust stream of the diesel engine. DEF is a water based solution consisting of 32.5% urea and 67.5% de-ionized water. It is clear and non-toxic but is subject to contamination and should be kept in a cool, dry area, ventilated area not in direct sunlight. It must be protected from low temperatures as it freezes at about 12 Degrees F. The SCR assembly has a catalyst which when it comes in contact with the DEF and the exhaust stream causes the chemical reaction to change the NOx into harmless components. The SCR could be compared to the catalytic converter that’s been installed on the exhaust pipe of gas powered vehicles since the 1970’s.

SCR technology was developed in the 50’s, but commercial use started in the late 1970’s for use with utility boilers, large ships, diesel locomotives, and gas turbines. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) required that, on or after, January 1, 2010 that all diesel vehicles meet new lowered NOx standards. Therefore, the industry would require some advanced technology to meet the requirements. DEF has become the leading technology and the standard for most diesel engines.

Fortunately, DEF is becoming readily available at most truck stops as well as some brick-and-mortar retailers like Advance Auto. It can increase your fuel mileage and can even increase the efficiency of your engine with less wear and tear. Best of all, it’s not toxic, harmful or dangerous.

DEF has a consumption rate of from 2-6% of diesel consumption for a vehicle. It is available in plastic jugs, large plastic totes and is now at truck stops located on the diesel islands in the form of a fuel dispenser. As the industry phases out older trucks and phases in newer models the amount of DEF being used will only increase. The current estimate of usage in 2015 was 402 million gallons. The 2019 estimate is 1.2 billion gallons as the conversion to new vehicles moves fleets over to this technology.

Do you run a gas station or truck stop with DEF dispensing needs? PSI can help! We’re experts at storage and tank systems, DEF dispensers, and anything else you might need to provide DEF to your customers.


The above is a review of documents from Wikipedia and other industry web sites.    

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