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Understanding Urea

Do you use fertilizer in your garden? Do you appreciate it when roads are deiced in the winter? Do you like having breathable, clean air? If so, then you are appreciative of an organic compound known as urea. Not many people know what urea is or why it’s important to them, but it is used in several sectors of the economy, including agricultural and transportation. In fact, urea is the world’s most produced chemical. Demand, particularly for use in fertilizers, is growing at nearly 4% – faster even than the global rise in population!

Urea Sample
Urea, which is defined as a water-soluble organic compound composed of hydrogen bonds obtained by the reaction of liquid ammonia and liquid carbon dioxide, is used around the world! The main way it is used is in fertilizing crops; around 90% of the world’s supply is used to fertilize crops. More than 40% of all food grown in the world is fertilized by urea. The difference between urea used for agricultural purposes and that used for diesel exhaust fluid is that agricultural grade urea typically has a coating like formaldehyde to protect it from dissolving too quickly. Technical grade urea, used in selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology, does not have a coating.

Recently, urea has been used for other applications besides fertilizer or animal feed, which has contributed to the demand. Urea is used in everything from biofuels, UF, MUF, melamine production, to diesel exhaust fluid (DEF). Stringent NOx regulations are increasing around the world for diesel engines, which has increased the demand for urea in selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology.

In SCR, the ammonia produced by the hydrolysis of the urea reacts with the nitrogen oxide emissions and is converted into nitrogen and water within the catalytic converter. Without urea, the system would not work, which is why it is extremely important to the development of diesel exhaust fluid.

You might be surprised where urea can be found! There are many commercial uses for urea like these:

  • Component of animal feed
  • Alternative to salt in deicing winter roads
  • Used in hair removing lotions like Nair or Veet
  • Ingredient in dish soap
  • Tooth whitening ingredient
  • Found in skin creams, hair conditioners, etc.
  • Found in cold compresses
  • Adding the brown color to pretzels
  • Glue
  • Dye
  • Flame-proofing

Urea is a great versatile organic compound. Victory Blue is excited to be able to incorporate it into our DEF. We encourage you to contact us with any questions, whether about DEF, urea, SCR, or anything else!