Pierce Manufacturing is dealing with the same immediate regulatory pressure that other fire truck makers face, namely the diesel particulate filter. Beyond that, Pierce is already coming to grips with stricter emissions regulations pending in 2010. Roger Lackore, Pierce's director of research and development, spoke with Industrial Fire World publisher David White about what the tighter emissions standards will mean for his company.
DAVID: Regarding these new emissions systems, what kind of problems are going to be unique to firefighters as opposed to over-the-road truckers?
LACKORE: The primary concern for 2007 is the need for "active" regeneration. With an over-the-road truck duty cycle, the DPF stays hot most of the time. A hot DPF continually burns off the soot that it traps in a process call "passive" regeneration. Now, if you've got a vehicle that is in stop and go traffic a lot, idling more often, maybe in colder weather, the DPF will not reach that 550? C temperature you need for passive regeneration. The soot is going to be building up in there. You have to do something to artificially heat it up. What most engine makers do is inject some diesel fuel into the exhaust down-stream of the turbo charger. That hits the diesel oxidation catalyst (an after-treatment device ahead of the DPF used to burn off hydrocarbons). Since diesel fuel is a hydrocarbon it creates a lot of heat which transfers into the DPF filter, burning off the soot. That is the process they call "active" regeneration.? The end result to the user is hotter exhaust exiting the tailpipe.
DAVID: Is there a light on the dash telling you to push a button or does it happen automatically?
LACKORE: Every 2007 engine apparatus has two lamps, the DPF lamp and the high exhaust temperature lamp, or HEST. The HEST lamp comes on any time the exhaust temperature is high enough to initiate the regeneration process. When the DPF light comes on you know that there is soot building up in the DPF. A solid glow gives you a warning that you may need to take action soon, a flashing lamp lets you know it is time to take action now. Once the DPF lamp is flashing you need to burn off the soot either by working the engine harder (on-road or pumping), or by performing a parked active regeneration.?
DAVID: How long does that take?
LACKORE: It varies by engine OEM, but a typical parked "regen" takes between 20 to 40 minutes depending on the amount of soot that has built up.
DAVID: That's going to be hard on fire trucks, isn't it?
LACKORE: It's not doing anything bad to the system. It just means fire trucks need a greater percentage of active regeneration than a typical over-the-road truck would require. Firefighters have been living with this now for a while because everything we've been selling since mid to late 2007 has an engine with a DPF on it.
DAVID: But the 2010 is going to be a different engine, right?
LACKORE: In 2010 there is one more after treatment device that gets added called selective catalyst reduction or SCR. In the 2007 engine what I talked about was taking the soot and the ash out of the exhaust. That's what you can physically see. But there are still oxides of nitrogen emissions higher than the final EPA standard. In 2010 everybody has to meet the NOX?requirements which are even more stringent than they are in 2007. The most popular method of managing that final reduction of NOX?is to use selective catalyst reduction. SCR requires a fluid mixture of urea and water. In Europe they call it Add Blue. Over here in the U.S. we are going to call it diesel emission fluid, or DEF. It's a harmless, non toxic liquid. When it is sprayed into the hot exhaust stream it turns into ammonia. The ammonia mixes with the exhaust and passes through the SCR catalyst. There are chemical reactions that take place that turn the NO (nitrous oxide) and NO2 (Nitrogen Dioxide) - these are the bad things - into common every-day nitrogen (N2) and water. The SCR device is about the size of the DPF we have today, and the DPF is not going away.
DAVID: Where are we going to put this thing?
LACKORE: That will be the challenge that everybody is going to face.
DAVID: That's another muffler almost.
LACKORE: You can use your own imagination about the different places the apparatus designers may choose. The impact on the body or the pumphouse - mostly the body - is going to be wherever you can package another DPF sized device.
DAVID: The DPF on these engines is not something you go down and get at Midas.
LACKORE: They're big and hot. The DPF today gets hot. The DPF in 2010 will get hot and so will the SCR catalyst. Managing the location so you can get rid of the heat will be very important.
DAVID: How big is that container of urea? How often does that have to be filled up?
LACKORE: Depending on the decisions made by the apparatus manufacturers, probably between six and twelve gallons. There is no strict requirement for the size of the tank, but the EPA would like it big enough to last through two and one half tanks of diesel fuel.
DAVID: So now we're going to have a urea service station too.
LACKORE: Yes. We expect that most truck stops will install a DEF pump right next to the diesel pump.? There are also options where a fleet could keep bulk tanks of DEF on site.? I visited a concrete operation in Germany that serviced their own fleet, and sold some to nearby truck fleets as well.
DAVID: Over the road truckers will have to do this too, won't they?
LACKORE: Right. In the fire service you need to remember that we have a longer time between when an apparatus is purchased and when it is delivered. The over-the-road guys have to be ready quicker than we do because they will be putting 2010 trucks on the road months before we will. By the time we are actually delivering fire trucks the SCR infra-structure will be in place, just like the low sulfur fuel that happened in 2007. Nobody had issues getting low sulfur fuel because by the time we had actually begun delivering 2007 engines it was six to eight months past the government imposed deadline.
DAVID: None of this is going to be cheap. The dollars added to maintenance worries me.
LACKORE: Most good things have a cost. I think it is important to not lose sight of the positives. NOX?and particulates contribute to smog. Studies indicate that smog causes 400,000 hospital visits per year for things like asthma, respiratory problems, and heart disease, and cancer all of which are linked to diesel exhaust.
DAVID: If we're at a big fire and starting to run out of fuel the fuel truck may have to pump urea too.
LACKORE: Or you have to have a jug of urea on hand. Remember that one tank of DEF should last for two or more tanks of diesel.
DAVID: Any other significant worries.
LACKORE: Well, urea does freeze, so there is a system to warm the tank once the engine starts, and provisions to keep the lines between the tank and the injector thawed.? The technology is new to us, but has been used in Europe for several years with the reliability well established.? I have visited several European engine manufactures to "go to school" on their experience, and there are diesel cars sold in the US today that use this technology already.
DAVID: The more I think about this, the more I just have to take a deep breath.
LACKORE: We apparatus manufacturers have been dealing with engine emissions changes every three to five years for the last decade.? This should be the final big change for a long time to come.? EPA has no plans for emissions regulations changes after 2010.
DAVID: Are we going to be able to get our big engines for our 3,000 gpm pumpers?
LACKORE: After 2010, I think 500 horsepower is where we are going to be. I don't see us getting the 525, 515 or 505 ratings we enjoy today, but given the 2009 NFPA changes this should be plenty of power and torque to pump 3,000 gpm.