Pain attached to Euro 6 expense

What’s good for the environment might hit a hip pocket nerve as Euro 6 costs becomes clearer

Pain attached to Euro 6 expense
Pain attached to Euro 6 expense

By Ian Porter | July 8, 2013

The proposed implementation of Euro 6 emissions regulations is expected to push up capital and maintenance costs for bus operators across the country, according to the Bus Industry Confederation (BIC).

And the regulations would also force a hefty increase in vehicle weight, which will cause productivity problems if operators are not cut some slack in the area of tare weight, the BIC’s Luke Hardy says at the BusVic Maintenance Conference and Bus Expo.

On top of that, operators were told that the diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) or AdBlue used by one of the new engine systems will require a stringent level of handling care in the garage.

Addressing a technical session at the Expo, Hardy says engine suppliers indicate that Euro 6-compliant engines would cost between $8000 and $12,000 more than Euro 5 engines.

"That was due to the design, development and testing costs associated with setting the systems up, the cost of the equipment itself," he says.

But that wasn’t all of the extra expense, he says.

"All manufacturers and suppliers advised that there would be some increase in maintenance costs."

This would be due to the fact that Euro 6 engines will use three different emissions-reducing systems, exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), particulate filters and selective catalytic reduction (SCR), which uses DEF to cut emissions.

"The additional maintenance costs were centred around the ERG systems and the use of particulate traps," Hardy says.

"The whole thing being that you are increasing the heat, and that is affecting a whole range of issues in the vehicle."

In addition, he points out that the SCR system would require a regime of careful maintenance all its own.

Hardy says the introduction of Euro 6 to Australia needed to be delayed because there were some issues still to be resolved.

The Government’s discussion paper on Euro 6 (Review of Emissions Standards (Euro VI) for Heavy Vehicles: October 2012) made no reference to the extra weight of the engine systems that would accompany Euro 6 regulations, nor any reference to how operators might make up the loss in carrying capacity.

He renewed the industry’s call for buses to be allowed an increase in tare weight from 16 tonnes to 18 tonnes, a limit that is already allowed in Victoria in certain circumstances.

"These new engine technologies are used separately or in combination. The weight increase will be between 300 and 350kgs per bus or coach.

"If you put that on top of the 300kgs involved when we went from Euro 3 to Euro 5, we’re talking 600 to 700kgs of weight that we have had to deal with as an industry since Euro 3.

"And, while we are starting to get 18 tonnes, we haven’t had any formal recognition of that (weight penalty).

"So, obviously, we have asked for additional weight. We have says 18 tonne only just brings up into line with the Europeans, so we have asked for an extra half a tonne.

"Whether we get that is another matter, but that is the position we have put up. That would recognise that we have already "worn" half a tonne as an industry."

CMV Volvo’s SCR Fluids Manager Jim Burr tells the same session that diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), sometimes known as AdBlue, needs to be handled with extreme care because it is easy to contaminate.

"One tablespoon of salt or sodium can contaminate 19,000 litres of product, so it is very, very sensitive," Burr says.

Similarly, it takes only minute amounts of copper, phosphorus or calcium to contaminate the product.

"Great care needs to be taken, not just in the production process, but also through the supply chain."

Even when cleaning the equipment, operators cannot use tap water, they have to use DEF or de-ionised water.

Burr says CMV Volvo was aware of some sub-standard DEF on the market that produced a scale similar to what is seen inside a kettle.

"That’s exactly what happens inside the catalyst, those elements can clog the pores in the catalyst.

"In fact, contaminants can clog exhausts, injectors and catalysts. Impurities (in the DEF) can have that effect and it can cost between $8000 and $12,000 to fix, plus time off the road."

Burr says the sub-standard product was probably made up of fertilizer-grade urea and tap water.

"Those two ingredients produce fertilizer, and not SCR fluid."

The sensitivity to contamination meant that SCR fluid (DEF, AdBlue) needs to be kept in chemical-grade equipment, not normal fuel-handling equipment.

"Petroleum equipment does not have the correct product lines (pipes), the right elements, to transfer the product. So all along the line, tanks, piping, hoses, seals, should all be compatible."

Apart from the sensitivity to contamination, the higher-grade equipment is necessary because DEF is ‘slippery’.

"It creeps. You can use Teflon tape or stainless steel, it will creep around that.

"The ideal is to have a closed system all the way through. There is a lot of money involved: dry break systems.

Burr advocated Micro Matic systems on top of tanks to get a sealed system all the way through.

Even the filling operation requires some care by the driver, and Burr encourages operators not to cut corners at this end of the system.

"AdBlue is not easy to fill. I strongly recommend you invest in the nozzle side of it, otherwise you have this constant clicking off which drives drivers crazy.

"They’ll respond, probably, by throwing it on the ground and it’ll cost you money."

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