Adding to the unknown is that not all fleets can be counted on to switch to the new low ash engine oils, or to ultra low-sulfur diesel fuel (ULSD), simply because they have so few ‘07 engines. “That may fill the DPF with ash faster,” Linder says.
“Then there are always the events that we call ‘oops’ in the market,” he adds. “Something might happen with the DPFs—they might not regenerate the way they’re supposed to.”
Although SPX is ready with its own service tool, appropriately dubbed the Diesel Particulate Filter Cleaner, Linder fears that fleets might not be ready for DPF maintenance.
“I think there’s a lot of unknowns,” he says. “I think everyone knows—and the OEM’s have all clearly stated—that the filter needs to be cleaned, but when and how often, they’re not sure.”
Linder equates DPF cleaning to oil changes in consumer vehicles: the people who change oil more frequently than they need to, say, every 3,000 miles, may be putting in more work, but they are also better protected from breakdowns.
“I think the same thing is going to happen with the DPF Cleaner,” he says. “If the process for cleaning the filters is fairly quick (approximately 30 minutes with the SPX product), and can be done at the same time that the yearly preventive maintenance is being done on a long-haul truck, why not do it?”
Once the ash is removed from the DPFs, the only remaining issue is the removal of that ash from the cleaner itself. According to Linder, California calls the ash that must be emptied from the cleaner a hazardous waste that must be disposed of appropriately, and some other states are following suit.
Fleets that plan to clean their own filters will need to keep abreast of local disposal laws, but that may be the least of their challenges when dealing with the “unknown science” of cleaning diesel particulate filters.