BOSTON. The implementation of the new 2007 diesel emission regulations is getting a lot of attention from fleets and suppliers the year’s American Trucking Assns. (ATA) convention here this week. Several workshops have been devoted to how truck technology is going to change in 2007.

“The transportation industry faces an abundance of challenges over the next few years -- and lubrication manufacturers are addressing many of them,” said Jim McGeehan, global manager of diesel engine oil technology for Chevron Products Co., who is heading a panel at the conference on how engine oils are changing to meet the needs of ’07 truck technology.

“Ultra low sulfur fuel [ULSD], the 2007 engines and diesel particulate filters are all interrelated with the upcoming PC-10 (Proposed Category 10) engine oil specification,” he added. “These technologies place new demands on lubricants and coolants. As a result, we are working closely with OEMs, component manufacturers and fuel suppliers to deliver the performance customers have come to expect from our products.”

“While these new emission standards will not go into effect until January 2007, the official motor oil licensing date will become effective in November of 2006,” said Dan Arcy, technical product marketing manager for Shell Lubricants. “So that’s when you’ll begin seeing the new formulations entering the marketplace.”

He also noted that PC-10 oils also need to work well with ULSD – diesel fuel with a sulfur content of 15 parts per million (ppm) as compared to today’s 500-ppm level fuel that’s expected to hit the market mid-year 2006.

“In addition to all that, an oil’s performance characteristics cannot be detrimental to after-treatment devices such as a diesel particulate filter or oxidation catalysts,” Arcy stressed. “These are expected to play an important role in meeting 2007 emissions. Yet another factor – the wider use of exhaust gas re-circulation (EGR) by engine manufacturers – will create even more work for the engine oil.”

The cost of these changes plus the headaches of maintaining new technology worries many carriers in the industry, said Gov. Bill Graves, ATA’s president & CEO.

“Beginning in 2007, EPA regulations call for dramatic reductions in smog-forming and particulate emissions from trucks – reductions of over 90% compared to current levels,” Graves said. “When fully implemented in 2010, EPA’s clean diesel rule is estimated to reduce smog-forming emissions of nitrogen oxides by 2.6 million tons each year, along with 110,000 tons of fine particulate matter annually.”

However, clean air comes at a price, he noted, as all the components needed to lower truck emissions – the engine, engines oil, and aftertreatment system -- all increase the purchase and maintenance costs for commercial trucks.

“This additional financial burden falls upon an industry where nearly 96% of companies are designated as small businesses,” Graves said. “Equally important, we must recognize that EPA’s projected environmental benefits materialize only if trucking companies can afford to purchase the cleaner but more expensive trucks equipped with the clean diesel technology. Customers always have the option of holding on to older trucks longer, rebuilding older engines, leasing older trucks, or simply buying more [pre-‘07] trucks today. If that happens, EPA would be hard pressed to realize the clean air benefits they are counting on.”