Beyond Compliance: Why Maintaining Clean Diesel Emissions Also Makes Business Sense

Despite big improvements over the past decade, 13.9 metric tons of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions were generated per person in the U.S. in 2020, according to the Energy Information Agency.

As a fleet manager or maintenance professional, you work to keep your fleet running smoothly and deal with the burden of navigating complex environmental regulations. 

You’ve made considerable investments to manage both to improve fleet performance and reliability. You may already know that many emission control investments go beyond just keeping the regulators happy. They provide great returns that impact many areas of your business. 

You need accurate and unbiased information about emission systems and maintenance, empowering you to make informed decisions that benefit your fleet and the environment. Let’s start with an overview of essential components contributing to effective emissions control.

Introduction to Bus Emissions Control Systems

Emissions systems are designed to reduce harmful pollutants emitted by the engine, promoting cleaner air quality and minimizing environmental impact. These systems work to control and limit the release of nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM), carbon monoxide (CO), and hydrocarbons (HC) into the atmosphere.

An after-treatment system is a method, or combination of devices, that cleans up exhaust gases in internal combustion systems to meet governmental emissions regulations. Some of these critical systems and parts include the following:

  • Filters: Emissions filters, a commonly used system component, work by collecting and storing pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, before they enter the atmosphere. 
  • One very effective type of filter is the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF). The DPF is used in vehicles such as diesel-powered buses. Over time, the trapped particles are burned off through regeneration, ensuring the filter remains clean and efficient.
  • Sensors: Internal sensors check for proper functioning throughout the system and flag out-of-line conditions that technicians must address.
  • Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR): SCR is an after-treatment technology that uses a catalyst and a urea-based diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) to reduce NOx emissions released into the atmosphere. 

    A supply tank sends the DEF fluid into a dosing module that determines the exact amount of solution needed. When the bus engine is running, the SCR module injects the reducing agent solution into the exhaust stream, where it interacts with the NOx particles. The chemical reaction breaks the particles into nitrogen and water vapor. The SCR module then filters the exhaust stream, trapping and removing the NOx particles.
  • Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR): The EGR system recirculates part of the exhaust gas into the intake system. Introducing inert exhaust gas reduces the combustion temperature, lowering NOx emissions.
  • Diesel Oxidation Catalysts (DOC): DOCs are a type of emissions control device for diesel engines that uses a combination of precious metals, including platinum, palladium, rhodium, and gold, to break pollutants into carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O). 

    At the core of the DOC is a ceramic honeycomb monolith with several small channels coated with precious metals. As the exhaust gases pass through, the precious metals act as a catalyst that breaks up the pollutants with a chemical reaction. 

    As a bonus, DOCs also reduce engine noise and improve fuel efficiency, as less fuel is required to produce the same power. Less required fuel means cost savings for fleets. Who doesn’t want that?

Importance of Selecting the Right Replacement Parts

Technicians know that properly installed components are critical. Improper installation can cause leaking and lead to increased emissions and decreased fuel efficiency.

Maintenance crews who’ve had to install substandard parts or parts not designed for the vehicle know that they can reduce fuel efficiency and cause engine damage. 

Maintaining these systems and components is essential to ensure optimal performance and reduce emissions. Regularly inspecting and replacing worn or damaged parts extend the emissions system’s life. 

Keeping Emissions Systems Clean Unleashes Better Business Results

Maintaining a high-functioning emissions control system also makes good business sense. (And some benefits that you can feel good about.)

Here are some of the additional benefits you can expect beyond achieving emissions compliance with federal, state, and local regulators:

  1. Extended Engine Life: Emissions control systems protect engines from contamination and wear. By maintaining a clean machine, your fleet can enjoy extended engine life and reduce associated maintenance costs.
  2. Improved Reliability: A clean system allows engines to operate as designed, minimizing malfunctions that cause downtime and impair operations.
  3. Higher Resale Value: Clean emissions systems signal to potential buyers that you prioritize having a well-kept fleet, helping you secure higher asset prices.
  4. Reduced Liability and Risk: Maintaining sound emissions control systems that follow legal regulations can help reduce risks associated with accidents or breakdowns.
  5. Increased Vehicle Longevity: Clean emissions systems help keep engines running efficiently, ensuring your fleet keeps moving and serves passengers longer.
  6. Improved Workforce Health: Clean engines lead to a reduction in harmful air pollutants, improving the quality of your work environment. Protecting employee health boosts staff morale and helps you keep good talent.
  7. Healthier Environment: By maintaining a clean exhaust, your fleet is helping to create a healthier environment for the community.
  8. Positive Public Perception: A sustainable fleet can help your brand establish trust and credibility in the communities you serve. 

These reasons add motivation to maintain high-functioning emissions control systems. Planned maintenance and timely replacement are essential to keep them running with optimal performance. 

KIRKS ToolBOX is how we share parts and maintenance knowledge with you. As your partner for parts, we bring technical experts on-site and online.

In a recent webinar with Dave Jerman of ROADWARRIOR, Dave covered troubleshooting and maintenance of your emissions system.

KIRKS Has Been Your Trusted Partner for Decades

As a transit professional, you are concerned about the reliability and durability of these technologies. It matters to us, too, so we created the Approved EqualTM Seal. Products with this seal assure you that our parts meet or exceed OEM specifications. 

Our high-quality, reliable replacement parts are specifically designed and rigorously tested for buses, coaches, and other emissions systems. It’s our goal to provide Approved EqualTM parts at competitive pricing. Let’s help you escape the parts trap and get optimal performance for long-term value.

At KIRKS, we are committed to providing you with the superior-quality emissions control components. Contact us and talk with a product specialist today! Watch the KIRKS ToolBOX Webinar here to get the latest tips on emissions system maintenance with ROADWARRIOR here.