Moving Science

City of Durham and Southern Research Demonstrate New Clean Diesel Technology on City Fleet

April 25, 2011

DURHAM, N.C. – Durham residents can now breathe a little easier due to the recent installation of new emissions-reducing technology on some of the City of Durham’s fleet of vehicles and equipment.

Southern Research Institute and the Durham City Fleet Management Department-as part of their continued efforts to improve air quality-partnered in the installation of emission-reducing technologies on multiple vehicles and equipment in the City’s fleet. Earlier today the department and Southern Research, along with project participants-the Triangle Clean Cities Coalition, Engine Control Systems, and NETT Technologies, Inc.-debuted the use of these new systems, which were installed on 16 heavy-duty diesel vehicles and equipment now in use by the City’s Solid Waste Management, Public Works, and Water Management Departments.

These new systems reduce significant amounts of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from the exhaust of diesel-powered vehicles and equipment, resulting in positive impacts on Durham’s air quality. NOx emissions contribute to the formation of harmful particulate matter, ground-level ozone, and acid rain. NOx emissions form when fuels are burned at high temperatures, with typical major sources being fuel combustion in vehicles and engines.

Southern Research Institute, a not-for-profit organization with transportation and energy research facilities located at the northern edge of Durham. Researchers at the Durham operation bid and won a $1 million grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to identify, test, and demonstrate advanced emissions-reduction technologies installed on Durham City fleet diesel vehicles. The fleet will maintain and use these technologies through the life of the equipment on which they are installed.

According to Tim Hansen, Senior Program Leader for Southern Research Institute’s Advanced Energy and Transportation Technology Group in Durham, the testing of the new systems shows promising results in reducing NOx emissions from these 16 heavy-duty vehicles.

“Right now, we’re seeing NOx emissions reduced by up to 78 percent and hydrocarbon emissions reduced over 90 percent,” Hansen said. “Since the city will keep the technologies and equipment operational for several years, they will provide long-term environmental and health benefits for the Durham community. We are happy to have been able to help Durham in this way – it’s where we live and work.”

Hansen and his team chose selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technologies from the EPA’s Emerging Technology List, which included NETT Technologies, Inc.’s BlueMAX and BlueMAX 200 urea-based SCR systems for on- and off-road applications as well as Engine Control Systems’ TermiNOx D urea-based SCR system for on-road applications. Technologies from these two vendors are now installed on the following City fleet diesel vehicles and equipment:

  • three Autocar WX 64 garbage trucks
  • four Crane Carrier LET2 garbage trucks
  • five Volvo WXLL64 garbage trucks
  • two Case 621D loaders
  • two Case 590 backhoes

According to Kent Cash, director of the City’s Fleet Management Department, this project is just one of the many ways his department is working to improve Durham’s air quality.

“We have a responsibility to help protect Durham’s environment, and thus, are constantly looking for ways to get ahead of the curve on the use of new technology for our vehicles and equipment,” Cash said. “When we were approached by Southern Research Institute to become a partner on their project proposal to EPA’s Emerging Technology Program, we were excited about the potential to have them select and test advanced new vehicle emission controls on Durham city vehicles. Based on the initial testing results we’re seeing, that potential has become a reality and our air quality is a little better because of it.”

According to Cash, this project is one of several the City is committed to with the hope of reducing air quality impacts from Durham’s fleet.

“Ultimately, the efforts of this department will help ensure that Durham is a place with thriving, livable neighborhoods, which is a major goal of the City’s new Strategic Plan,” Cash said. “This project is one of many that we are working on to improve our environment and we are continuing with our journey for better air for all. We are staying the course using a mix of new technologies and best fleet management practices.”

About Southern Research

Southern Research Institute is a not-for-profit 501(c) 3 scientific research organization that conducts advanced engineering research in materials, systems development, environment and energy, and preclinical drug discovery and development. Our more than 550 scientific and engineering team members support clients and partners in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, defense, aerospace, environmental and energy industries. Southern Research is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., with facilities in Wilsonville, Ala., Frederick, Md., and Durham, NC and offices in New Orleans, La., Washington, DC and Kiev, Ukraine. Southern Research has considerable experience in developing and evaluating technologies for the power industry. For more information about Southern Research Institute in Durham, visit Southern Research North Carolina.

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