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Major particulate filter retrofit program launched in Puget Sound

10 July 2001

A massive, first-of-its-kind diesel particulate filter retrofit effort has been launched in the State of Washington by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, King County, the City of Seattle, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other local governments and area businesses. The program, termed Diesel Solutions, was announced today in Seattle by Christine Whitman, the EPA Administrator. Whitman called the program “a national model of public-private partnership that can be duplicated in other areas”.

This initiative, started under the EPA Voluntary Diesel Retrofit Program (VDRP), will involve 50% of government vehicles and 30% of large commercial fleets in the four-county region, including Boeing. It will reduce diesel particulate matter (PM) in the retrofitted fleets by 90%, reduce overall particulate emissions in the area by 14-25%, virtually eliminate hydrocarbon emissions, and help the region comply with national air quality standards.

The voluntary anti-pollution efforts will involve retrofitting with particulate filters of 5,000 existing engines in public and private buses, trucks, refuse haulers, highway maintenance vehicles and other equipment. “This will put the EPA at its halfway goal of assisting the upgrade of 100,000 existing engines in 2001 - ten times more than in 2000,” said Whitman.

To enable the use of particulate trap technologies, the participating fleets will use ultra low sulfur diesel fuel. The diesel fuel, produced by Tosco Refining (Union 76), has a maximum sulfur content of 15 ppm. It is expected that the magnitude of the Diesel Solutions program will create a market for the ultra low sulfur fuel in the Pacific Northwest so that other companies and government agencies can take introduce the advanced emission control technologies.

Emission control technologies for use in the Diesel Solutions initiative must be verified under the EPA VDRP program. Currently, two particulate trap technologies are verified: the Continuously Regenerating Technology (CRT) by Johnson Matthey and the DPX Catalyzed Diesel Particulate Filter by Engelhard.

The ultra low sulfur fuel will initially be 8 cents per gallon more than the regular diesel refinery price. Transportation costs will be added. Diesel particulate filters will cost between $4,000 and $7,500 per vehicle. EPA has committed up to $2 million over the next few years to leverage this project.

The program also includes Durham school buses in Everett, transit bus fleets in King County, corporate fleets owned by Boeing, Emerald City Disposal refuse and recycling trucks, Washington State Department of Transportation highway maintenance vehicles, and the Port of Seattle vehicles. The Oregon Department of Environmental quality and organizations in Portland area also interested in joining, and additional Seattle area participants are being sought. Other participants include EPA Region 10, Washington Department of Ecology Air Program, The Manufacturers of Emissions Controls Association, Cummins and Detroit Diesel.

The Washington, DC-based Diesel Technology Forum (DTF) is a partner in the Puget Sound Diesel Solutions program. “With diesel vehicles lasting over a million miles, it’s an effective effort to apply all the benefits from the latest technology to upgrade the thousands of existing engines while cleaner engines are coming onto the market in new vehicles and equipment,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of DTF.

Source: Diesel Technology Forum