SPECIAL REPORT: First Diesel Engine Emissions Summit - What can we expect with EPA’s 2007 regs?

| 7/3/2003

While the trucking industry is still trying to absorb the emissions regulations that became effective last October, attendees at the summer meeting of the Technology and Maintenance Council heard government and industry leaders describe their expectations for the next regulations, effective Jan. 1, 2007. The council met June 10 in Phoenix.

TMC co-hosted the first Diesel Engine Emissions Summit along with Transport Topics, a weekly trucking newspaper. Speakers included representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT). They were followed by successive panels of truck builders, engine makers, coolant and lubricant suppliers and fuel distribution experts. The final panel consisted of truck fleet operators.

Jeff Holmstead, deputy administrator of the EPA, reviewed research indicating that “since 1997, it has become increasingly clear that fine particles in the air, such as diesel soot, contribute to and aggravate respiratory diseases, especially among the elderly.”

He started as a skeptic, but his research led him to conclude that emissions reductions will be cost effective.

“When the standards are finally implemented, when virtually all pre-10/02 engines have been replaced, there will be about 8,000 fewer premature deaths and 1 million fewer cases of respiratory diseases annually,” he said.

The 15-month pull-ahead of the effective date, from January 2004 to October 2002, was an enforcement action, not regulatory. EPA has learned from the pull-ahead and expects 2007 to go well. The agency is committed to working with industry, and held an Implementation Workshop with all interested parties this past August. For 2007, all engines will be thoroughly tested in the field.

Mark Kachmarsky of Mack reminded Holmstead that users want at least one full winter to test the engines. Because of this, new technologies and the ultralow-sulfur diesel needed for the exhaust aftertreatment devices must be ready to go by September 2005.

In looking back at the 10/02 experience, Joel Szabat of the Department of Transportation, a former executive officer of EPA during the first Bush administration, volunteered that, “Any decision that involves lawyers, prosecutors and consent decrees does not make good public policy.” He stated that both DOT and the White House were sensitive to the needs of trucking. “We will accomplish what the law requires with minimal disruption.”

The truck manufacturers’ panel consisted of company presidents Rainer Schmueckle of Freightliner, Michel Gigou of Volvo/Mack and Daniel Ustian of Navistar International. Schmueckle presented the changes the industry faces in 2007 and again in 2010 when NOx limits drop again.

Current 2002/2004 emissions regulations standards are one-twelfth (8.3 percent) of pre-1990 emissions. The reduction from 2002/04 to 2007 is 25 times. 2007 standards are 4 percent of current ones, and for 2010, standards will require a 99.2 percent reduction of the 2002/04 levels.

The industry has three options, according to Schmueckle, to meet the standards. One is continue to do more of the same, to refine combustion and/or use exhaust gas recirculation. Another involves Selective Catalytic Reduction. It requires the injection of a urea-water mixture into the exhaust before a catalytic converter (more on that later). The third involves an adsorber for oxides of nitrogen. NOx adsorbers rely on platinum or other precious metals. They are not yet viable commercially, and if they go into production, they will be large and expensive.

Freightliner’s position is technology-neutral, but “decisions must be made this year,” Schmueckle said, “to get test trucks on the road in 2005.”

Mack’s Gigou said “the industry is working to make 2007 a non-event.” He gets a daily truck-down report and finds the 10/02 engines no worse than earlier ones.

He feels, “There will be strong buying in ’05 and ’06 because the economy will be back, not out of fear.”

Ustian agrees that International is “on pace for a 2006 launch.” The issues are development, test time and cost.

“The emissions are doable,” he said, “but to avoid high cost, lost time and confusion, there must be cooperation among all parties.” Collaboration must involve the entire supply base.

Gigou said that choices (specifications) might be more limited.

“You tell us what you need done, we will help you develop a truck for your needs. We must provide efficiency to control costs.”

Several attendees took that as a signal that customer spec’ing may end, that the manufacturers would determine optimal specs.

The Engine Panel featured Tim Tindall from Detroit Diesel, John Campbell of Caterpillar, Anthony Greszler of Mack Trucks, Steve Charlton from Cummins and Patrick Charbonneau of International Truck and Engine.

Tindall reviewed the emissions targets. Then, to emphasize how clean the exhausts will be, he reported that Detroit Diesel is building a multimillion-dollar test facility to clean the air before it goes into the engine, so they can measure emissions accurately.

“Detroit,” he reported, “will have a new platform in 2007 (to replace the Series 60), and will phase it in over several years time. They are working with SCR technology, using urea to help separate NOx into nitrogen and oxygen molecules. With SCR, Detroit Diesel can meet the 2007 NOx emissions today, but reliability is still a question.”

SCR promises longer oil drain intervals and better fuel economy.

Caterpillar’s Campbell said that ACERT engines that meet 2007 standards are available for demonstration now. Field testing will start by the end of this year. Cat has not yet decided which type of exhaust aftertreatment they will use. A de-NOx catalyst that needs no second fluid (urea) is under consideration. Practical NOx adsorbers are not expected before 2007.

Greszler said Volvo Powertrain, which includes Mack, Renault and Volvo worldwide, has found particulate filters more than 90 percent effective. They require service one to two times a year, for about $150 per service. Volvo is also looking at Lean NOx Adsorbers. One caution is that fueling with 500 part-per-million (ppm) sulfur diesel will damage them. Adsorbers require ultralow-sulfur diesel (ULSD) with no more than 15 ppm sulfur.

Volvo is also looking at SCR. It offers the best fuel economy and lowest life-cycle costs, but requires the use of urea. Their engines will use high performance EGR in addition to aftertreatment.

Greszler said the EPA estimated increased operating costs for 2007 engines will increase $3,785, but Volvo considers it “a very big challenge to meet those kinds of costs.”

According to Cummins’ Charlton, cooled EGR will be the foundation of their engines. They will use either SCR, NOx adsorbers or oxidation catalysts. Each has problems. Urea for SCR must be protected from freezing (at +12 degrees F). Adsorbers need ultralow-sulfur fuel and low sulfur oil. Oil will also affect Catalysts. New lubricants must have lower ash content.

International’s medium-duty engines will use pulsed fuel injection, according to Charbonneau. The first pulses will start pilot ignition to control NOx and reduce diesel noise. After the main power pulse, there will be two more low-volume pulses to enrich the exhaust for after-treatment.

“The net result,” Charbonneau said, “will be emissions that are lower than with alternate fuels (natural gas, ethanol, etc.)”

The panel agreed that there will be no changes in power ratings, but engines will be larger displacement. Diesel particulate filters are delicate. They may not perform if chipped or cracked.

That was the good news. The emissions goals are attainable and it appears there will be ample time to test the new engines. The bad news has to do with fuels and lubricants.

Jim McGeehan of Chevron Texaco Research is an SAE Fellow and chairman of the committee that develops new oil classifications. He reviewed the development to meet emissions.

For 10/02 engines, CI-4 oil was approved last year, and three engine makers have already added new tests for their products. EGR creates more acid in the intake, with more rapid base depletion. McGeehan cautions that “oil analysis is essential with EGR. When the declining trend line for TBN (total base number) crosses the increasing TAN (total acid number) trend line, oil drain is essential. It should be done sooner.”

Steve DiBiase of Lubrizol, an additive supplier to oil manufacturers, discussed the new lube oil category. He said it cost the industry more than $100 million to develop each category.

McGeehan and DiBiase agreed that unless you have a specific problem, you should not alter your oil’s chemistry with aftermarket additives.

“Any additives with sulfur or phosphorous may adversely affect the engine or its exhaust after-treatment,” he said. McGeehan commented that “with additives, the oil supplier no longer warranties the product.” 

Current plans call for 15 ppm ULSD fuel to be available before 2006, while 500 ppm fuel is still available for use in older engines. Smaller refiners will be allowed to produce no more then 20 percent of their output as 500 ppm fuel beyond 2007.

Buster Brown of the Colonial Pipeline System described the mix of fuel products sent in pipelines, including jet fuel with 3,000 ppm sulfur. Since pipelines cannot prevent commingling, pipeline specifications may require limits of 6 to 8 ppm for diesel.

Speaking for users, Ryder’s Jerry Thrift was concerned with increased fuel cost coupled with reduced fuel economy. He is also worried about the “Bubba Factor,” when poorly trained employees use the wrong grade fuel during the 2006 to 2009 transition period when smaller facilities will still sell 500 ppm fuel. Since the wrong fuel can ruin a $6,000 aftertreatment device, better safeguards are needed. Thrift suggested restricted fillers and sized nozzles as with unleaded gasoline.

Truck operators Don Schneider of Schneider National, Glenn Brown of CFI, Joe Fleming of Falcon Transport and Kevin Knight of Knight Transportation made up the last panel.

Schneider described the increased costs for emissions-controlled engines. He calculated the net present value of all operating and purchase cost differences compared with pre-10/02 engines. For 2002 models, the increase is $15,000. For the 2007 engines, he expects it to be $35,000.

Fleming sees the industry buying 1.8 billion gallons more fuel due to the 4.7 percent average real-world loss of fuel economy fleets are experiencing with 10/02 engines.

“Fleets,” he said, “are the only ones with true life cycle and reliability data.”

Brown will not buy new trucks “until 2006 or later, maybe 2009. The EPA said 2002 engines would increase cost about $1,000. In reality, it’s up to $7,000. If EPA says 2007 will cost about $4,000, what will reality be?”

Knight would like to see 2 1/2 years of testing on engines. He used to buy on a 3 to 3 1/2 year trade cycle, but that will change.

When questioned about increased maintenance costs as trucks age. Brown said he might keep trucks from 600,000 to 1 million miles if need be. Schneider expects to manage the service costs of breakdowns. He chides the EPA, saying, “Running older equipment isn’t good for the environment, either.”

There it is, the good and the bad of the next set of emissions-controlled engines. Sooner or later, we’ll have to buy them, because our current trucks won’t run forever. Be prepared for some major readjustments.

--by Paul Abelson, technical editor

Paul Abelson can be reached at truckwriter@netscape.net.