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The amount of pollution produced by diesel engines is alarming. Hence the need for an efficient way to reduce its dangerous emissions. This led to the development and adoption of diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) in diesel-powered vehicles.
Diesel emission fluids, using Urea, break down harmful Nitrogen oxide into non-pollutant nitrogen and water.
We have compiled a detailed guide on DEF’s meaning, history, impact, composition, and uses. We also provide answers to some frequently asked questions about the subject.
What is DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) and how and why is it used?
Diesel exhaust fluid, also known as AdBlue, is a fluid added to a vehicle to reduce the pollution produced by diesel-powered engines. The fluid and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) helps the engine decrease the concentration of Nitrogen oxide produced.
Typically, diesel engines operate Overstoichiometric combustion, where excessive oxygen remains unburnt/unreacted after combustion. Excessive oxygen causes the production of Nitrogen oxide, which is then released into the atmosphere.
Automotive makers have adopted SCR to eliminate nitrogen oxide from being released into the environment.
Furthermore, DEF is contained in a separate tank and injected into the exhaust pipe, breaking exhaust gasses into ammonia. In addition, the ammonia gasses are transferred to the SCR, reducing the Nitrogen oxide into non-polluting nitrogen and water. The compounds are then released into the environment.
In 2004, the first practical SCR was employed by the Nissan Diesel corporation, and the product was marketed as Nissan Diesel Quon in Japan. Soon, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, through the 2007 regulation, required diesel vehicles to have a Diesel Particulate Filter to reduce the effects of Nitrogen oxide on the environment.
Later, the government introduced stricter regulations, including the 2010 EPA regulation. It introduced a reduced level of nitrogen oxide further than previous attempts.
The rate of releasing DEF into the DEF is usually between 2 to 6% of the diesel consumption rate. Sometimes, depending on the after-treatment system, it may be either less or more.
DEF is made using urea and deionized water, making it safe and non-toxic for people. Although urea may react badly with metal, it is important that DEF is stored in a plastic container and stored properly; also, ensure that it is sealed properly because of contamination.
What does urea do in a diesel engine?
Urea was originally used in fertilizer and other related products. However, more recently, it has been employed in the automobile industry to neutralize toxic Nitrogen oxide.
Diesel fuel consumption poses an emission threat to the environment. An effective method to neutralize the production of nitrogen oxide was the use of Urea.
Urea is mainly used in Europe and comprises 32.5% pure urea and 67.5% deionized water. It works with a specific catalytic converter (SCR) that helps reduce the level of harmful substances present in diesel engine exhaust gasses.
Furthermore, the substance works by being injected into the catalytic converter. Once this happens, a chemical reaction instantly changes nitrogen oxide into nitrogen and water.
How does an SCR system work in a Diesel engine?
The SCR stands for Selective Catalytic Reduction and serves the purpose of reducing nitrogen oxide. The system is installed in the catalytic converter and releases diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) or urea substances into the exhaust gasses through a unique catalyst.
When SCR is activated and releases these substances in the exhaust system, it reacts with exhaust gasses and converts the dangerous nitrogen oxide waste into water and nitrogen. By installing this system in your exhaust, you can achieve about a 90% reduction in the Nitrogen oxide pollution of your diesel engine.
How often do you have to refill a diesel exhaust fluid?
Your exhaust fluid should be refilled after about 4 times of refilling your diesel engine’s tank. Other factors may influence the time frame needed to refill the exhaust. Some of the factors may include how often you drive the vehicle, what type of diesel engine you are using.
Some manufacturers have made an indicator that notifies the driver that your exhaust is low and due for a change.
Benefits of diesel exhaust fluid
Exhaust fluid comes with a lot of benefits. The major benefit is that it can provide less harmful exhaust gas. With the exhaust fluid, vehicle emission is safer.
Below are some of the benefits of using exhaust fluid.
1. Eliminate toxic exhaust fume
The major function of exhaust fluid is to reduce toxic substances like nitrogen oxide. Once the fluid is released and meets with exhaust gasses, harmful substances are neutralized.
2. Reduced Maintenance
One benefit of exhaust fluid is reducing the maintenance of exhaust parts. The gasses coming from the engine have substances that can damage parts of the engine over time. Exhaust fluid reduces these harmful substances drastically, leaving you with long-lasting exhaust parts.
3. Regulation compliance
One of the most important benefits of using exhaust fluids is that it helps you keep to emission regulations. Every state has its law guiding emissions and the best way to reduce your vehicle’s emission of harmful substances.
4. Better exhaust performance
Against the worries that using exhaust fluid will reduce performance, vehicles perform better with exhaust fluid.
DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid): Tips and Best Practice
When you consider buying DEF, there are some tips and practices that you need to know that will lead you to the right one for your vehicle. Some tips you need to know before buying a DEF include the following.
Buy High Quality DEF
It is important that you buy only high quality DEF products as low quality DEF can be harmful to your vehicle exhaust system. When the DEF mixture is in the exhaust system and is released and comes in contact with exhaust gasses, there is supposed to be a reaction. With low quality DEF the reaction might not happen as it should, and a good amount of toxic waste could still remain.
Do not Overbuy DEF
DEF has a lifespan of about two years or less, which means overbuying them could lead to waste. When you are buying DEF, buy just the right amount for your use and a little extra for emergencies.
Store in airtight sealed containers
What many people do not know is that the substance can easily be contaminated, and this is why it needs to be stored properly. Find a good container with proper sealing and store.
Purchase from trusted suppliers
To avoid buying inferior DEF, buy from trusted suppliers. You can get to know if a supplier is trusted through online reviews or by asking someone who makes use of the brand.
Is DEF actually helping the environment, or just an EPA scam?
DEF has helped the environment to reduce dangerous emissions. Research taken by EPA shows that emissions of hazardous gas waste created by trucks and other high-emitting diesel engines have dropped by 40%. It shows that DEF is not a scam but is as real as it could be.
Is DEF fluid in a short supply?
There is a high demand for DEF, but unfortunately, there is not enough for all the demand. The further prediction shows that there will be a worldwide shortage of DEF by 2023.
Will adding DEF to a gasoline engine damage it?
It is not advisable to add DEF to the gasoline engine. They are specifically for diesel engines. Adding a DEF to a gasoline engine will cause the vehicle to run badly, and the engine will fail to start after a while.
Does it matter what diesel exhaust fluid I use?
All exhaust fluids should be the same and have the same substances. However, buying a more trusted exhaust fluid brand would be best. Some brands may sell lesser-quality exhaust fluids. Check reviews for a better understanding of the type of brand that you want to buy.
Request a Quote
Diesel Exhaust Fluid services are a great way for your diesel engines to decrease their emission of Nitrogen Oxides pollution in the environment. If you have any inquiries about DEF or related services, don’t hesitate to contact our technicians at European Motors.
At European Motors in Silver Lake, our European car specialists are equipped to provide a Diesel Exhaust Fluid services for your Mercedes-Benz, BMW, VW, and Jaguar 2000 and up.
Our shop has been located on Ivanhoe Hill since 1975, across the street from Whole Foods Market. We have been proud to be a neighborhood favorite auto repair shop for over 40 years. If you need help carrying out Diesel Exhaust Fluid service, give European Motors a call.