Why is AdBlue® more important than ever?
Drivers and fleet managers have a long list of things to bear in mind when making sure their vehicles are properly maintained. High up this list are things like engine oil and tyres, both of which have obvious benefits when it comes to time and money. But in the case of AdBlue® — designed to protect the environment, not the engine — the benefits are less obvious.
Anyone operating a diesel vehicle needs to know about AdBlue® though – especially since its importance is growing across all automotive sectors.
What is AdBlue®?
AdBlue® is an exhaust additive, and the most recognised form of Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF), a mixture of 32.7% synthetic urea and 67.5% de-ionised water – in line with ISO 22241 standards. AdBlue® is the German car manufacturers association’s trade name for the product.
AdBlue® is injected into a vehicle’s exhaust gas flow via a technology called Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR). When added to the high-temperature gases, the fluid turns to ammonia and carbon dioxide, reacting with nitrogen oxide (NOx) gas in the exhaust to create non-toxic nitrogen and water.
NOx emissions are firmly in the sights of regulators because the gas is a chief cause of respiratory and environmental problems. Royal College of Physicians stats show that each year in the UK, the gas is partly responsible for around 40,000 deaths, 6 million sick days and a £22.6 billion overall social cost.
WLTP emissions tests
Across the world, the introduction and scope of emissions reduction legislation is gathering pace. For drivers in the UK, this means adhering to Euro emissions standards, and from September 2018, all new car registrations will be tested against these standards using the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP).
Coming into force last year, the WLTP measures fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and pollutant emissions, including NOx emissions, as well as the energy consumption of electric and hybrid vehicles. All of these have an impact on vehicle tax levels.
Based on real-life driving conditions, not laboratory tests, they’ve replaced the old-fashioned New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) assessments and are a way for drivers to understand the real emissions of their vehicles, alongside driving emissions-reducing innovation amongst manufacturers.
For diesels, the introduction of WLTP and the drastically lowered NOx limits in the Euro 6 emission standard has meant manufacturers are increasingly turning to AdBlue®. It’s an easy way to reduce NOx emissions that’s been tried and tested in HGVs and buses for decades.
Clean Air Zones
Across the country, local governments are introducing Clean Air Zones (CAZs) under the guidance of the UK government’s Clean Air Zone Framework — five will be in force by 2020, in Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton.
The CAZs will mean any taxi, bus or HGV entering them is subject to checks based on their Euro emissions standard. If the vehicle exceeds its standard, the driver will be charged entry to the zone, with fines going towards maintaining the schemes, and acting as a push factor for businesses and drivers to upgrade their vehicles to cleaner and more efficient ones.
Because NOx emissions are a key aspect of the Euro emissions standards, diesel drivers will need to make sure their cars meet the standards, which means being topped up with AdBlue®.
What happens if I run out of AdBlue®?
If a vehicle with a correctly installed SCR runs out of AdBlue®, it will first warn the driver and then it often simply won’t start.
With the introduction of AdBlue® has come devices that trick the vehicle’s engine management systems into thinking that AdBlue® is being used. AdBlue® emulators are illegal and there have been plenty of instances where regulators have disqualified the operating licences and fined hauliers found using emulators. As AdBlue® use becomes more widespread, it’s certain that these punishments will be used on car and van drivers too.
Technical note: Please note that the Adblue is ready to use and does not need diluting. To add water (particularly tap water) not only will dilute the concentration affecting its’ performance but also the mineral salts in the water will deposit on the SCR blocking it and making it ineffective.
If you’re a diesel driver with an SCR system, Total’s AdBlue® products are an excellent choice, offering dependable and safe NOx reduction for an excellent price. Visit the AdBlue® page for more information, or contact our team.