Diesel exhaust fluid
Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) is an aqueous urea solution made with 32.5% urea and 67.5% deionized water. It is standardised as AUS 32 (aqueous urea solution) in ISO 22241. DEF is used as a consumable in selective catalytic reduction (SCR) in order to lower NOx concentration in the diesel exhaust emissions from diesel engines.
The German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) registered the trademark AdBlue for AUS 32.
Diesel engines can be run with a lean burn air-to-fuel ratio (overstoichiometric ratio), to ensure the full combustion of soot and to prevent the exhaust of unburnt fuel. The excess of air necessarily leads to generation of mono-nitrogen oxides (NO
x), which are harmful pollutants, from the nitrogen in the air. Selective catalytic reduction is used to reduce the amount of NO
x released into the atmosphere. Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) from a separate tank is injected into the exhaust pipeline, where the aqueous urea vaporizes and decomposes to form ammonia and carbon dioxide. Within the SCR catalyst, the NO
x are catalytically reduced by the ammonia (NH
3) into water ( H2O) and nitrogen (N
2), which are both harmless; and these are then released through the exhaust.
DEF is a 32.5% solution of urea, (NH
2CO. When it is injected into the hot exhaust gas stream, the water evaporates and the urea thermally decomposes to form ammonia and isocyanic acid:
2CO → NH
3 + HNCO
The isocyanic acid hydrolyses to carbon dioxide and ammonia:
- HNCO + H2O → CO2 + NH
Overall, this is
2CO + H
2O → 2 NH
3 + CO2
From this point, ammonia, in the presence of oxygen and a catalyst, will reduce nitrogen oxides:
The overall reduction of NO
x by urea is:
- 2 (NH
2CO + 4 NO + O
2 → 4 N
2 + 4 H
2O + 2 CO2 and
- 2 (NH
2CO + 3 NO
2 → 3 1⁄2 N
2 + 4 H2O + 2 CO2
SCR systems are sensitive to potential chemical impurities in the urea solution, therefore the solvent is demineralized water. The urea solution is clear, non-toxic and safe to handle. However, it can corrode some metals and so must be stored and transported carefully.
DEF is stored in a tank on board the vehicle, and injected into the exhaust stream by a metering system. The injection rate depends on the specific after-treatment system, but is typically 2–6% of diesel consumption volume. This low dosing rate ensures long fluid refill intervals and minimises the tank's size (and subsequent obtrusion into vehicle packaging space). An electronic control unit adjusts the addition of fluid in accordance with such parameters as engine operating temperature and speed.
Diesel exhaust fluid is offered to consumers through a variety of quantities by manufacturers ranging from containers of it for single or repeated small usage, up to bulk carriers for consumers that require a large amount of DEF. It is recommended that DEF be stored in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area that is out of direct sunlight. As of 2013, a number of truck stops are beginning to add DEF pumps, in which diesel exhaust fluid is administered at pumps similarly to diesel, and often located adjacent to fuel pumps so that the vehicle operator can fill up on both without moving the truck.
Daimler AG's tradename for its own selective catalytic reduction technology using DEF is "BlueTec". Following the Volkswagen emissions scandal its Clean Diesel-era technology and defeat devices were to be replaced by selective catalytic reduction retrofits.
- "Hino Standardized SCR Unit". Hino Motors. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
- "The DPR Future" (PDF). Hino Motors. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
- "ISO 22241-4:2009 Diesel engines — NOx reduction agent AUS 32". ISO (International Organization for Standardization). 2009-08-01.
- "What is DEF?" (PDF). Cummins Filtration.
- "How it works". H2Blu.
- EP 2551009, "Diesel exhaust fluid formulation having a high ammonium content and a low freezing point", published 30 January 2013
- Jordan Golson (2015-10-13). "VW Plans to Recover From Its Scandal by Going Electric". Wired.
- VDA website entry on Adblue
- FactsAboutSCR.com North American SCR Stakeholders Group
- "NOxBLUE Diesel Exhaust Fluid Material Safety Data Sheet" (PDF). November 2010.
- "AdBlue Material Safety Data Sheet" (PDF). September 2014.