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The 5 Facts and Fiction of Diesel Exhaust Fluid

Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) is a growing part of the transportation industry. The deadline for being compliant with EPA mandated diesel emission standards is approaching rapidly. This deadline means that fleet executives and OEMs are trying to become better acquainted with selective catalytic reduction technology as well as diesel exhaust fluid. This rush for education has led to some common diesel exhaust fluid misconceptions. Read on to discover the top five diesel exhaust fluid fictions and the true facts!

fact v fiction

1. FICTION: DEF degradation will be a major problem

FACT:  Diesel Exhaust Fluid doesn’t degrade nearly as quickly as people assume. For example, at 86°F, DEF has a shelf life of a year. REMEMBER: Do not equate shelf life to spoiling like food, as DEF will not go bad. IT will lose some effectiveness, and the SCR will dose at a higher rate, but it won’t “go bad.” If maintained at a constant temperature, DEF manages to stay for several months. For example, at 74°F in Los Angeles, Diesel Exhaust Fluid has the shelf life of 44 months.

2. FICTION: Diesel Exhaust Fluid is toxic

FACT: The urea solution is not flammable, nor is it toxic. If you get it in contact with your eyes, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water. The solution is not listed by any USA or Canadian transportation authority as a hazardous material. Urea doesn’t become toxic at any temperature.

3. FICTION: Frozen Diesel Exhaust Fluid will render the vehicle unusable

FACT: While diesel exhaust fluid does freeze at 12° F, the frozen liquid does not render the vehicle unusable. The EPA has required that DEF flow within 70 minutes, and Detroit diesel testing has proven that diesel exhaust fluid will melt and flow within the EPA requirements. Coolant lines are routed around the reservoir to thaw the diesel exhaust fluid in the tank. The system will function until the diesel exhaust fluid begins to flow.

4. FICTION: Diesel Exhaust Fluid is difficult to use.

FACT: Diesel exhaust fluid consumption is expected to be approximately 2-3% of fuel consumption dependent on vehicle operation. This means that 50 gallons of fuel would equal 1 gallon of diesel exhaust fluid. The minimum tank size recommendation is 6 gallons for clear BOC.

5. FICTION: DEF will be difficult to find.

FACT: Thankfully, diesel exhaust fluid won’t be hard to find at all! Thanks to major travel centers that already have diesel exhaust fluid at the pumps, diesel-using trucks are able to find plenty of places that sell diesel exhaust fluid. For example, Love’s just recently revealed that they had diesel exhaust fluid lanes at all of their locations. Additionally, selective catalytic reduction stakeholders continue to ensure that there is a strong distribution network for a smooth transition into full compliance with EPA requirements.