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Diesel Exhaust Fluid Helps Destroy Harmful Exhaust Emissions for Cleaner Air Quality

The Carbis Team | Fluid Handling | May 6, 2013 8:02:00 AM

Diesel Exhaust Fluid, also referred to as DEF, is a clear, non-flammable liquid made using a solution of 32.5% high-purity urea in 67.5% de-mineralized water. DEF is non-hazardous and is neither a fuel nor a fuel additive. If Diesel Exhaust Fluid comes into contact with skin or clothing, no worries, it can be washed off with water. The urea used in DEF is created synthetically from ammonia and carbon dioxide (CO2) and is often found in products we use every day including cosmetics, hair conditioner, and adhesives.

Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) is used in combination with a Selective Catalytic Reduction system (SCR) to reduce the emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from a diesel-fueled vehicle’s exhaust system. The DEF is sprayed into the exhaust where it works with the catalyst to break down NOx into nitrogen and water rendering it harmless. In diesel powered vehicles there is a dedicated Diesel Exhaust Fluid tank that is refilled in a similar way to the diesel tank.

Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) is a fairly new product required by many heavy-duty trucks, pickups, SUVs and vans manufactured after January 2010. This need originates from the Clean Air Act of the 1970s in which the EPA the regulated emissions of NOx, particulate matter and other pollutants from road vehicles, electric utilities, and off-road equipment. These pollutants are associated with many respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.


The requirements for handling DEF are unique. The main point to remember is that DEF must always be of the highest purity and have dedicated receptacles. It is very sensitive to impurities and much more likely to be damaged by materials it touches rather than DEF damaging other materials.

If DEF becomes contaminated it can cause the SCR system to malfunction. This means pumps and containers used for DEF must never be used for any other fluids. It is important that tanks, pumps, hoses and nozzles are used solely for DEF and no other products.

Selective Catalytic Reduction technology provides better fuel efficiency for vehicles. In addition, owners of SCR vehicles notice more reliability and a longer oil change interval saving time and money.


DEF has a shelf life of two years if stored at the proper temperatures – between 12°F (-10°C) and 86°F (30°C). If DEF is stored outside, there are heating and cooling solutions available to keep it within the correct temperature range. Certain stainless steels and various plastic materials are suitable for DEF storage. To avoid corrosion, never use any sort of carbon steels, copper, copper-containing alloys or zinc-coated steels.

Demand for DEF will rise, as most producers of diesel engines will employ Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology that uses DEF. By 2019, DEF consumption in North America is estimated to reach 1.2 billion tons per year.

It is possible to deliver DEF via rail cars with proper loading/unloading equipment. Because of DEF’s corrosive potential on certain metals, Carbis supplies companies with the correct stainless steel loading arms and other relevant equipment to properly dispense the fluid. Carbis Fluid Handling can manufacture pumping and metering skids designed specifically to handle DEF. Contact us today and let’s discuss how we can help your business.

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