There’s more to DEF—Diesel Exhaust Fluid—than meets the eye, according to Old World Industries, a leading supplier of the fluid required for EPA 2010 diesel engines to remain in compliance while out on the road. Old World markets its product as BlueDEF  and describes it as a urea-based fluid that converts the pollutant NOx into harmless nitrogen and water in selective catalytic reduction (SCR) emissions-control systems.

"The challenge for the industry will be to maintain ample and uninterrupted supply as demand for DEF grows," said Old World's Kal Mahmood, senior vice president of commercial & OEM sales, at a recent media briefing."Our extensive supply chain offers an established distribution infrastructure. Few manufacturers have the opportunity to supply and distribute to so many diverse networks as we do. Our expertise and relationships across the heavy-duty market allows us to provide BlueDEF through an already established network."

Indeed, he noted that over the past 35 years, Northbrook, IL-based Old World Industries’ product range has greatly expanded. Its lineup of Peak Performance Products now includes antifreeze, oil filters, motor oil, windshield wash, wiper blades, battery chargers, jump-starters, power inverters and back-up cameras. Other Old World brands include Sierra antifreeze, Fleet Charge fully formulated heavy-duty antifreeze and Final Charge heavy-duty extended life antifreeze/coolant.

“DEF will be a 150,000-million gallon market by next year—making it equivalent to the coolant market,” pointed out Old World vice president Frank T. Cook, Ph.D. “And it will be a 1.2-1.8-billion gallon market by maturity [in a few more years’ time].

“And DEF is a very competitive market because the product is 60% water,” he continued. “But unlike some other [water-based] commodity products, the purity of DEF is of great importance as the quality of the product is critical to vehicle performance.”

Cook described BlueDEF as a nontoxic solution of 67.5% purified water and 32.5% “ultra pure” automotive-grade urea. “BlueDEF is stable, colorless and odorless, and meets ISO Standards 22241 for purity and composition and is an American Petroleum Institute (API) certified diesel exhaust fluid. These are the highest quality and safety standards in place to ensure optimum SCR performance.

“We feel it remains critical to inform the market about how important DEF purity is,” he stressed. He said if it is not handled, transported or stored properly, large batches of it can be contaminated by very small amounts of foreign substances—such as a spoonful of salt added to a bulk tanker of DEF.

“Purity [of DEF] is key to catalyst function and integrity as SCR systems are very sensitive ti chemical impurities in the urea solution,” he stated. “That’s why users are precluded from ‘mixing their own’ DEF and from putting in additives of any kind.”

He added that the use of DEF helps improve diesel engine fuel economy of up to 5%, allowing fleets to gain a reduction in overall operating costs.

Cook said that even though the industry is “now 30 months into the use of DEF, quality issues remain in the market” One of these he noted was dust contamination during transit, which can be avoided by using only dedicated tankers to haul DEF and having them deadhead.

“We spent two years educating our product distributors on handling BlueDEF, to ensure they could actually make the deliveries to the fleets,” said Cook. He noted taking on BlueDEF is a big commitment as “distributors must invest $25,000 to take advantage of this opportunity.

“We know the key to winning in this market is having the right infrastructure,” he continued. “It will take a new entrant into this business a minimum of 24 months to get up and running as they must create their own production/blending/distribution infrastructure.”