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Canadian government mandates cleaner diesel engines

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An interim order issued by Environment Canada in December 2010 permits the import of non-road vehicles outfitted with cleaner Interim Tier 4 (IT4) diesel engines.

An interim order issued by Environment Canada in December 2010 permits the import of non-road vehicles outfitted with cleaner Interim Tier 4 (IT4) diesel engines.

Machines equipped with IT4 technology are now being required by law for non-road equipment in the U.S., with all new models to be so-equipped by the end of 2012.

However, they’re coming with a price premium ranging from about five to 15 per cent over previous models.

Environment Canada said it expects to align itself with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards by the 2012 model year.

“The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) began requiring IT4 technology for non-road vehicles at the beginning of 2011, and it will be mandatory on all non-road construction equipment sold in the U.S. by the end of 2012,” said Joe Mastanduno, product marketing manager, engine/drivetrain with the John Deere Construction and Forestry Division.

“John Deere is rolling out new IT4-equipped models in stages. While many of our new machines sold in the U.S. are equipped with IT4 technology, we’re still providing Tier 3 equipment to the Canadian construction market.”

Additions to IT4 engines include hydrocarbon control with a diesel oxidation catalyst, a diesel particulate filter (DPF), and a DPF active regeneration system.

Machines designed to meet IT4 requirements must also use ultra-low sulfur diesel and low ash oil.

In order to operate at the optimal level while reducing emissions, the engines require additional attention from fleet managers and operators.

For example, IT4 units operate at elevated temperatures to lower emission levels, so engine cooling is critical.

Exhaust filters must also be serviced to remove accumulated ash, with engines above 175 hp requiring service at a minimum of every 4,500 hours and those below requiring service at a minimum of 3,000 hours.

While EPA regulations trump local regulations, it doesn’t prevent individual states, counties or municipalities from adopting tougher regulations, or even requiring fleets to retrofit their existing equipment to lower emission levels.

The EPA is currently surveying U.S. counties that demonstrate unusually high ground-level ozone and particulate matter levels.

Counties designated as “non-attaining” could find diesel vehicles targeted for replacement or retrofit.

It’s an approach that could be adopted in some Canadian jurisdictions.

A discussion paper issued by Metro Vancouver in 2009, for example, contemplates a fleet averaging approach to reduce diesel emissions in construction fleets.

“A draft regulation from Vancouver states: Non-conforming vehicles in those areas may become subject to a proposed $20 per-horsepower penalty for every year they fail to comply,” noted Mastanduno.

Environment Canada has already identified jurisdictions demonstrating high counts of ground-level ozone that could be subject to tougher diesel emission regulations.

These include the Vancouver area, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg, as well as a band stretching across much of industrialized Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Some jurisdictions may also require contractors to supply vehicles equipped with pollution-reduction features, such as DPFs, in order to bid on contracts.

John Deere began shipping IT4-equipped vehicles ahead of regulatory schedule in mid-2010 to contractors, who were willing to pay a premium in order to qualify for government contracts specifying low-emission vehicles.

The EPA will require non-road vehicles to be equipped with Tier 4 Final diesel engines by 2014.

These engines may be fitted with selective catalytic reduction after-treatment of exhaust, which will transform nitrous oxide, nitrogen dioxide and ammonia into nitrogen gas and water.

On-highway diesel trucks have used this technology since Jan. 1, 2010.

“The new equipment will again add an additional five to 15 per cent to the cost of construction vehicles beyond the increases of IT4,” said Mastanduno.

“Right now, most Canadian contractors are asking us to keep on shipping Tier 3 equipment, but when Canada aligns itself with U.S. regs, we’ll begin supplying IT4 exclusively.”

by Peter Kenter

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