SCR Systems Go Mainstream

By Bob Gray and Doug Haugh | January 19, 2010
Now that the U.S. EPA's Clean Air Act 2010 mandate to reduce nitrogen oxide diesel emissions is in effect, transportation professionals are no longer planning for the future-we're living it. The promise of 5 percent better fuel efficiency using SCR systems is a substantial economic carrot, but before we can bite into it, we have to overcome integrating new technology into our fleets and training our teams on best practices.

Randy Weiss, vice president of sales for Mid-Town Petroleum in Chicago, said there has been a lot of hype in the trucking and heavy-duty industry communities about diesel exhaust fluid (DEF). Last December, Mid-Town trained 12 team members in how to properly store, manage and distribute Air1, the DEF offered through Mansfield Oil's supply partner, Yara, the world's largest DEF manufacturer. Weiss cited that the extensive training offered by Mansfield and Yara was a core reason to go with the Air1 brand. Yara first began offering its DEF product in Europe four years ago, and now more diesel-powered vehicles worldwide use the Air1 solution than any other.

Mansfield is a national fuel distributor operating the largest commercial fuel distribution network in the U.S., and delivers more than 2 billion gallons of fuel to customers annually. The Mansfield DeliveryOne approach to supplying fleets accents local service, delivering DEF down the last mile through existing fuel, petroleum and lubricant jobbers, to fleets that are already doing business with Mansfield. The DeliveryOne network distinguishes itself as the only national DEF supply option backed with international supply depth.

Yara's Sluiskil plant in Netherlands is the largest DEF production facility on the planet. Mansfield partnered with Yara because it wanted a long-term partner with global reach. There is enough domestic DEF production right now, but when the demand curve for DEF spikes, Yara is in a supply position to meet demand from the large North American market.

Most North American DEF producers have already locked down supply arrangements. Cherokee Chemical, for example, supplies Yara and Mansfield exclusively, while Dyno Nobel provides DEF to highly specialized urea distributor Cervantes-Delgado. But domestic demand for DEF is going to be sluggish for the next few years. The investment to bring a plant online to produce at today's volumes doesn't make good business sense, which is why Mansfield's DeliveryOne offering relies not only on domestic production, but can also access the mature European DEF market through Yara.

Looking at U.S.-based options, a company to watch is AirGas, a spin-off division of La Roche, a 100-year-old ammonia producer headquartered in Atlanta with 24 locations. Recently separated from its parent company, AirGas has deep experience in ammonia-related chemical manufacturing and distribution across a spectrum of industries, and has set its sights on being a DEF supply contender.

Another early supply contender is Terra Industries. The $2.8 billion dollar chemical company has 6 locations. They've chosen leading chemical distributor Brenntag as their exclusive partner.

Air1 DEF was in place nationally as early as late last November. Mansfield's DeliveryOne locations weren't alone in getting product in place early. A number of truck stops are also carrying quantities of DEF. Pilot has 100 of its 310 truck stores stocked with DEF, and plans to add 25 facilities per quarter until each location carries both 2.5 and 1 gallon jugs.

Tom O'Brien, CEO of TravelCenters/Petro, said his company's 230 locations will offer gallon jugs of DEF for sale, bulk DEF dispensing tanks in all 1,000 maintenance bays in its service shops, and some bulk dispensing tanks at its fuel islands. "We have no concerns that we won't have enough DEF supply-we're getting all we need right now," he was quoted as saying in Fleet Owner in March.

National demand for DEF is projected to grow steadily but slowly in the next decade as fleet owners bring new engines online, replace existing engines with SCR-equipped ones, and rebalance fleets to take advantage of the fuel efficiencies around DEF. Overall national demand is expected to hit approximately 1 billion gallons per year by 2019. As you build out your own DEF strategy, consider these resources for up-to-date information:

• DEF information hub: OPIS offers an outstanding information portal on DEF news and developments at www.opisdef.com.
• DEF demand projections: Mansfield provides a free, interactive map of the U.S. on its Web site, www.mansfieldoil.com, under the tab "Air1 DEF," which shows the demand in annual gallons per state.
• DEF consumption calculator: At the same Web site, Mansfield provides a consumption calculator that allows you to enter the average fleet miles per truck, average miles per gallon, number of SCR-fitted trucks, to find out how much DEF you'll need for your fleet and how many DEF fill-ups to schedule per month.
• DEF legislation: Yara compiles global legislative information regarding nitrogen oxide emissions and DEF at http://us.air1.info/en/all-about-def/legislation/.

Bob Gray is director of biofuels with Mansfield Oil, and Doug Haugh is executive vice president and chief information officer for Mansfield Oil. Reach them at (800) 695-6626.
 
 
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