Engine emissions controls becoming costly
Feb 1, 2004 12:00 PM
TRUCK engine emissions controls required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have not improved truck performance. As a matter of fact, EPA regulation-compliance has resulted in higher costs and less fuel economy, said Bill Gouse of the American Trucking Associations.
The EPA regulations address, among other things, nitrogen oxides (NOx) that form when fuels burn at high temperatures, such as in motor vehicle engines. Manufacturers are mandated to produce engines in incremental years that will reduce NOx.
As manufacturers scurry to produce the engines, carriers are finding that the engines now on the road are demonstrating fuel economy that has gone “not to bad, but to horrible,” Gouse said.
He also pointed out that the long-time durability of the new engines is unknown — and the trucks are getting heavier as a result of the engine requirements.
As for controlling particulates that can't be captured and burned in the engine, a trap may have to be installed as part of the exhaust system.
The big, heavy device that will block visibility in a day cab, lengthen the wheelbase, and limit where exhaust stacks can be placed. The device will have to be serviced at 150,000 miles, and will have to be taken apart, the ash removed and dropped somewhere.
“Typical shop equipment won't be able to handle it.” Gouse said. “The government says now that the ash is not a hazardous material, but I think that will change.”
Another problem is that the devices are expensive so that shops aren't likely to carry spares. “In addition, the device will be full of precious metals, so people may steal it,” he said.
There is some good news, however. Engine manufacturers and others are involved in research and development in an effort to improve engines while meeting the regulations, Gouse said.
In 2007, engines must be powered by ultra-low sulfur diesel, a situation that will call for a host of very complicated on-board diagnostics, Gouse said. The cost to refineries for reducing the sulfur content is estimated to boost diesel by four-to-five cents per gallon.
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