Changes mandated by next “emission year” engines

Engine manufacturers and trucking OEMs alike are looking forward to the changes mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for 2013 and 2014 in a new and positive manner. They are utilizing existing and proven technologies to deliver better fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) at the same time.

Fleet owners and owner-operators will see a reduction in operating costs, without the concerns about reliability and durability that used to characterize an “emissions year.”

Cummins has taken the lead and is a step ahead, having completed all the necessary testing and certification procedures. Instead of just meeting the current-year regulatory requirement of adding On-Board Diagnostics, Cummins is leveraging its Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology and fully integrated engine system to meet 2014 GHG and fuel-efficiency standards a year ahead of schedule, in 2013.

Cummins 2013 engines are projected to have a 2 percent fuel-economy gain and will have the positive association that comes from running a “greener” truck fleet. Plus, there is less fear of new technology, since everything that is being done uses proven engine and aftertreatment systems.

On-Board Diagnostics

On-Board Diagnostics is a good example of this. The technology to do this has been used in passenger cars for years. It’s been on pickup truck engines, such as the Cummins 6.7L Turbo Diesel since 2007, and even on Class 8 trucks equipped with certain ISX15 ratings since 2010. Literally thousands of on-road vehicles are currently running with this system, logging millions of trouble-free miles.

The only new element with the 2013 On-Board Diagnostics regulations is that the data interface has been changed to a universal design. So now, one diagnostic tool can read/download information from the On-Board Diagnostics system on any engine.

On-Board Diagnostics monitors all emissions-related engine systems during operation. If the system detects any emissions-related malfunctions, it will alert the vehicle operator through an instrument panel lamp known as the Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL). An illuminated MIL indicates that the engine and aftertreatment system should be diagnosed and serviced at the next available opportunity.

Diesel Exhaust Fluid Lamp

The On-Board Diagnostics system works in conjunction with the existing diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) lamp, which is equipped on every 2010 and newer vehicle with SCR aftertreatment. If a vehicle operator lets the DEF level in the tank drop below a certain level, the DEF lamp will illuminate. Refill the DEF tank, and the lamp goes off, in the same way a low fuel gauge does.

If the operator ignores the DEF lamp, it will start flashing. Eventually, when the DEF level drops low enough, the amber-colored Check Engine Lamp will illuminate as well. This means that the DEF tank is critically low and needs to be refilled immediately in order for the SCR system to continue functioning properly.

The vehicle will experience a power loss to keep the engine/aftertreatment system in proper working order. Adding DEF will immediately restore normal engine power.

After the DEF tank has run dry, if the engine idles for one hour, the diesel fuel tank is filled without also refilling DEF at the same time, or if the engine is turned off and then restarted, the red “Stop Engine” lamp, the flashing DEF lamp and “Check Engine” lamp will illuminate. The vehicle will be limited to a speed of 5 miles (8 km) per hour. Once the DEF tank is refilled, normal operation will resume.

From an operation standpoint, the best practice is to top off the DEF tank every time the vehicle is refueled. While DEF is widely available throughout North America wherever diesel fuel is sold, it’s not a bad idea to carry a spare gallon jug of DEF onboard, just in case. Even adding a small amount of DEF to the tank should turn off the warning lamps and restore the engine to normal operating power.

Proven Technologies

On-Board Diagnostics is a proven system with nothing to be concerned about from a maintenance standpoint. The same holds true for SCR and the aftertreatment technology that every major diesel engine manufacturer is using to meet existing 2013 emissions standards and the 2014 regulations being implemented by the EPA on GHG emissions and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on fuel efficiency.

Cummins ISX15 was the first engine certified to meet these new standards - a year ahead of schedule, getting approval in October 2012. It is a good example of how a totally integrated approach can yield significant benefits.

Through a series of related improvements, Cummins has been able to reduce parasitic loads and limit the number of active aftertreatment regeneration events. Plus, the ISX15 is capable of downspeeding – all of which yields a fuel economy gain of up to 2 percent.

This, in turn, has reduced the GHG output of the engine without compromising performance, reliability or durability.

The fact that Cummins is able to optimize proven technologies and meet clean-air standards a year ahead of schedule – reducing operating costs with no downside risk – is proof of how forward-thinking, integrated systems and planning are keeping the trucking industry – and everyone who depends on it – a step ahead.

L. F. (Louis) Wenzler is the technical sales support director for Cummins, a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel engines, power generation systems and related products and technologies ( Wenzler’s more than 30 years with Cummins have allowed him to build deep knowledge of the diesel engine industry, particularly the on-highway markets Cummins serves.