Driving for cleaner air
Things are set to change within the transport industry with the focus shifting to lower emissions, better fuel economy and sub-Saharan Africa’s vehicle parc set to migrate to Euro-5 and Euro-6 emission standards in the very near future.
Like many others, Sydney Bruckner, business manager of environmental solutions at Engen Petroleum, is rather disappointed that this year’s Truck Test won’t feature any vehicles that adhere to Euro-5 emission standards (as it had in its inaugural event in 2012).
“Several South African based original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are now actively working towards introducing vehicles that meet Euro-5 and Euro-6 emissions standards,” Bruckner points out. “The use of AdBlue in the catalytic system of trucks meeting these standards is in tune with predicted tighter emissions legislation.”
It would, thus, be great if Truck Test 2016 could include units with higher Euro ratings, as it has been legislated that South Africa should be running on diesel with 50 parts per million (ppm) by 2017 …
“It’s unlikely, however, that the target date will be reached,” says Bruckner. “Industry and government haven’t yet agreed on how best to implement the changeover. It will, most likely, only gain traction around 2019/20.” (Diesel with lower sulphur levels is currently available as huge volumes are being imported – which is a costly process.)
“Currently, legislation in South Africa requires diesel vehicles to comply with Euro-2 emission standards. There are, however, truck operators and a number of OEMs that have already embraced the higher standards. The number of Euro-4 and Euro-5 configured trucks, fitted with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) units, is growing,” Bruckner points out.
He continues: “By 2020, it will probably become compulsory, globally, to meet these standards, with the exception of a few countries. South Africa is also committed to reduce its gas emissions by 34 percent by 2020 and 42 percent by 2025. Engen, as a downstream petroleum player, and the other petroleum majors have a crucial role to play now and over the next ten years, if the national targets for the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) and mono-nitrogen oxides (NOX) emissions are to be met …”
Despite a lack of the usual market drivers to meet Euro-5 and Euro-6 emissions legislation in sub-Saharan Africa, the AdBlue business is growing steadily in the region. “Currently, the market is in a period of development rather than application, as a result, it is quite challenging to make the economics work,” Bruckner tells FOCUS. “As a company, we are, however, aware that we have a responsibility to promote a good environment in which to operate – for our customers and for the type of products we market and manufacture.”
What is AdBlue exactly?
“AdBlue is the generic industry name for emission fluids, just as diesel is the generic name for a type of fuel, used in vehicles meeting the Euro-5 and Euro-6 standards,” Bruckner explains. “It is a 32,5 percent solution of high-purity urea in de-mineralised water.”
AdBlue is used with SCR technology and is totally safe and environmentally harmless. “It reduces the level of pollutants by up to 90 percent in the exhaust gases of commercial vehicles, is non-toxic, non-flammable and non-hazardous for transport,” Bruckner adds. “The average consumption of AdBlue is generally five percent of diesel used – approximately five litres of AdBlue is used for every 100 l of diesel, for example.”
Engen has entered this market through a strategic alliance with Yara, the biggest manufacturer of AdBlue in Europe and Australia, and has secured the exclusive distribution rights for the Air1 brand (Yara’s AdBlue product). “Engen is the first major South African petroleum company to do so, ahead of its multinational competitors,” Bruckner points out.
“The Yara/Engen alliance is another major step forward in Engen’s ongoing environmental drive as we align our environmental sustainability goals with company strategy, vision, mission, purpose and values,” he continues. “Notably, the company’s own bulk-fuel transport fleet replacement programme focuses on models that run on low-sulphur diesel and comply with Euro-5 standards.”
Bruckner adds that the availability of Air1 in sub-Saharan Africa gives OEMs the flexibility to introduce their latest-technology vehicles into this market. “Whether or not truck owners have heard of Air1 and AdBlue, the chances are they may soon be driving vehicles that require it.”
This raises the economic concern of another operating cost being added to an industry already under some major pressure. “The extra cost of the emission fluid is negated by the efficiencies of the newer engines,” Bruckner reassures. “And while modern diesel vehicles, fitted with SCR systems, are an additional capital investment, fuel savings should cancel out this extra expense over time.”
Air1 is available at Engen Truck Stop outlets, select Engen service stations and Engen-supplied truck and car dealerships.
“Engen, as the leading downstream petroleum company operating in Africa, will not be focussed on today, but on planning for the future with the intent of moulding it instead of being moulded by it,” says Bruckner. “Increased environmental awareness and tougher operating conditions make it necessary to have a more diverse product portfolio and the AdBlue product is a natural fit to our business.”
This is exactly why the Air1 brand will be involved in Truck Test 2015, despite the lack of Euro-5 vehicles. “It offers us brand-building opportunities and a way of introducing this product to the market, which will certainly be impacted when the lower emissions legislation kicks in.”
Bruckner adds: “We wish to assure all our customers, such as fleet operators, OEMs, truck and car owners requiring AdBlue, that Engen is in a strong position to make Air1 available when they do decide to change over.
“We are going into uncharted waters, but we are very confident that a number of OEMs and fleet operators, in South Africa, will adopt good green practices,” Bruckner tells FOCUS. “At Engen we believe that environmental drivers will sustain the market and create value in the not-too-distant future.”
Who knows, maybe Truck Test 2016 could demonstrate exactly how Euro-5 vehicles will fare on South African roads? It is just a matter of time before there won’t be any other option.