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Conference report: Integer Emissions Summit & DEF Forum USA

31 October 2015

The 8th Integer Emissions Summit & DEF Forum USA was held on October 27-29, 2015 in Chicago, IL. The conference, attended by close to 400 delegates, focused on emission challenges related to a number of recently adopted or proposed emission regulations, including the US EPA Phase 2 GHG regulation and the planned California low NOx emission standards for heavy-duty engines, as well as the European Stage V legislation for nonroad engines. The conference also included sessions on DEF (diesel exhaust fluid)—with topics ranging from market analysis, through urea production, distribution and handling, to urea related sensors—as well as a session on marine engine emissions.

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GHG Emissions. An update on the status of US EPA/NHTSA Phase 2 GHG and fuel economy ruling for medium- and heavy-duty trucks was given by Matt Spears [US EPA]. The implementation of the proposed Phase 2 standards would begin in 2018 for trailers and in 2021 for all other vehicle categories, with the standards fully phased-in by 2027. The standards would achieve up to 24% GHG emission reduction in Class 8 tractors and up to 16% reduction in vocational vehicles, commercial pick-ups and vans. The proposed standards retain a separate GHG standard for heavy-duty engines that requires a 4% efficiency improvement. While these emission reductions have been criticized by many—notably by the California ARB—as not stringent enough, the Phase 2 rule would be more demanding than Phase 1. According to the US EPA estimates (see the chart below), the Phase 1 regulation slows emission growth, but does not reduce GHG emissions from the heavy-duty sector, while under the Phase 2 scenario emissions would actually decrease from around 2023. However, due to the population and economic growth, the GHG reductions are predicted to be short-lived and emissions would start increasing again from around 2032.

Estimated annual GHG emissions under Phase 1 and proposed Phase 2 regulations

Low NOx Standards. California long term air quality goals include reductions in GHG emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, and by 80% by 2050, as well as reductions of NOx emissions by 80% in the South Coast basin [Kim Heroy-Rogalski, California ARB]. To meet the GHG targets, the state needs a Phase 2 GHG program stronger than the EPA Phase 2 proposal, and may develop a California Phase 2 GHG program with more stringent requirements than the federal rule. To achieve the targeted NOx emission reductions, California needs new, low NOx emission standards for heavy-duty engines. These standards will be based on the existing optional low NOx standards, that include NOx limits of 0.1, 0.05 and 0.02 g/bhp-hr. The first 0.02 g/bhp-hr NOx certifications were recently granted to Cummins Westport for two versions of their 8.9 L CNG/LNG engine (DieselNet Update - September 2015).

California ARB intends to petition the US EPA to establish a new federal low NOx engine standard. In case the EPA does not develop a federal standard, the ARB will start a rulemaking process to adopt a California heavy-duty low NOx standard. The ARB rulemaking is tentatively scheduled for 2017-2019. The mandatory low NOx standard would be adopted in 2019 and implemented over 2023-2027.

To support the development of low and zero emission heavy-duty truck technology, the ARB has been funding a growing number of truck projects. The funding has increased from $95 million in the financial year 2014-15 to $167 million in 2015-16. The increased funding has been made possible by the California low carbon cap-and-trade money appropriated to the ARB by California Legislature in September 2015.

User Experience. An interesting insight on the new engine and vehicle technologies was presented by Paper Transport [Jeff Shefchik]—a US truckload carrier operating about 500 tractors. While the overall durability of heavy-duty diesel engines has increased considerably, with over 1 million miles until a major overhaul, the new emission technologies introduced a number of high maintenance components. Some of the identified issues include early NOx sensor failures, EGR replacements and the lack of quality, cost effective DPF cleaning. The experience of the operator also indicates that DPF cleaning is often needed more frequently than the OEM recommendations. Among new fuel efficiency technologies, low rolling resistance tires could provide a fuel consumption benefit, but required more frequent replacement compared to regular tires. This raises the question of life-cycle efficiency of many GHG emission reduction technologies, where the true efficiency of a given technology may be significantly reduced—or entirely canceled—due to the extra hardware that is required.

The adoption of natural gas powered trucks is slow due to the additional cost of $30,000 to $60,000 (depending on the type of tank) and their low fuel economy. While the reliability of natural gas engines has been improving, they still cannot match the uptime of diesel engines.

Conference website: integer-research.com/conferences/ies-usa-2015