By LARRY KERSHNER
Farm News news editor
MASON CITY – Even though the new federal regulations that created the Tier 4 engine won’t go into effect until 2014, Iowa farmers are working to get themselves educated about the caring and feeding of these “green” engines, especially the new exhaust system.
Chip Doolittle, of Doolittle Oil Co., in Fort Dodge, said he gets regular inquiries of diesel engine owners on how to maintain the diesel’s selective catalytic reduction system.
The SCR uses a diesel exhaust fluid, consisting of a compound who maintain ingredient is urea.
The fluid is squirted into the exhaust stream of these new diesel engines. The molecules latch onto the nitrogen oxide, converting the NOx to nitrogen, water vapor of tiny amounts of carbon dioxide, all natural elements in breathable air.
According to information supplied by Dr. Song-Charng Kong, a mechanical engineer at Iowa State University, the SCR technology can reduce NOx emissions by 90 percent.
Kong said getting educated on the use and maintenance of the SCR may not be a crucial concern for most producers now, “but it will be a legitimate concern” within the next few years.
Doolittle said that most farmers are getting their introduction into the new system with their pick-up trucks, but as more ag machinery with Tier 4 engines – tractors, sprayers, combines – come online, more education is going to be needed.
“My perception is there is a vacuum of information out there,” Doolittle said.
Lucy Heiken, co-owner of D&L Equipment in Kensett, said her shop is also getting frequent inquiries about the exhaust component.
She said many are asking about the cost of DEF, if it’s safe to handle, how much to have on hand and the availability.
D&L’s primary market is versatile tractors, ranging from 280 to 600 horsepower. To date, they don’t have any Tier 4 engines, but they are on order.
Dave Heiken, D&L co-owner, said his shop sells the fluid and clients are currently buying it for diesel-powered pickups with the new SCR system.
PetroBlend, in Mason City, also retails DEF. Jeff Johnson, spokesman, said his clients “are up-to-speed on DEF.” Many of them are larger farmers who have done their homework . “And there’s plenty of DEF around,” he said.
According to Kong, the consumption rate for DEF is roughly 2 percent to 4 percent of diesel fuel use. So for every 100 gallons of diesel fuel, between two to four gallons of DEF will be injected into the exhaust system.
A typical diesel truck may go about 300 miles on one gallon of DEF. The refueling interval will depend on the size of tank and distance traveled or type of work being conducted.
Aside from cleaner emissions, Kong said, the SCR and DEF technology can improve fuel mileage in many diesel engines, but again how much will depend on the equipment.
Contact Larry Kershner at (515) 573-2141, Ext. 453 or email@example.com.
Spending as little as $30 today might save your engine and your livelihood
If your trucks are important to you, but transportation isn’t your primary business – use the experience of local repair shops to navigate emissions changes, safety regulations, and prolong the life of your truck.
Spending a dollar on preventive work now is cheap insurance for the future.
1. Preventive maintenance – Establishing and following a correct preventive maintenance program will decrease downtime and act as an early warning for potential future expenditures. Downtime is conservatively estimated to be between $800 to $2,500 per day – including tow truck cost, repairs, incremental expense of alternate transportation and lost revenue. PM prices range from around $185 to $500, depending on geography, vehicle/engine and services performed. Recommended PM intervals vary based on how the truck is used and seasonal considerations, among other things, so it’s a good idea to double-check PM schedules with your local shop.
2. Oil sampling – Oil sampling costs less than $30, can be performed with a PM, and sampling is an early warning for major engine problems and unplanned down time.
Oil sampling will tell you if wear metals or contaminates are present which helps prevent large future expenditures. For example, high levels of metal detected early enough might point to replacing bearings; the alternate path for this undetected problem could be complete engine block replacement.
3. Watch emissions systems – If your truck is a 2007 or newer, consult with local professionals about emissions systems maintenance. As 2007 models age, the need for new decisions arises for the first time – like cleaning the DPF filter versus replacing it.
Ask your shop what to do before forced re-generations become common; look for a shop with cleaning on site to further decrease downtime. First level DPF cleaning is in the range of $400 while a replacement costs twice that.
4. Fuel quality – Talk with your fuel suppliers and your local shop about quality of fuel and repairs that might be resulting from bad fuel. Bad fuel problems don’t show up immediately and when they do show can be pricey, like fuel injectors.
5. Look for a business partner – If you have just a couple of trucks or transportation isn’t your primary business, review how much time and effort you want to spend on maintaining your trucks versus finding someone to manage (safety and preventive maintenance) your trucks versus renting or leasing vehicles.