Market News

 August 22, 2007
BC requires clean diesel technology for old trucks

 British Columbia, Canada - The B.C. government has introduced regulations to make clean technology mandatory in older commercial transport diesel vehicles in order to reduce diesel emissions and protect human health.

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The new regulation will require the mandatory installation of Diesel Oxidation Catalyst (DOC) filters, or an equally effective technology, by 2009.

Roughly 2.4 million vehicles in the province emit 1,411 tonnes of PM annually with heavy-duty diesel trucks contributing the largest amount of PM from the on-road fleet of vehicles. On-road heavy-duty diesel vehicle models 1989-1993 are responsible for 6.8 per cent of overall particulate matter pollution, a high proportion given the relatively small number of vehicles. To view charts of vehicle type and particulate emissions, click here (PDF).

DOC filters use a chemical process to break down pollutants in the exhaust stream into less harmful components. Over the past few years, school buses and municipal fleets have been voluntarily installing DOCs with considerable success.

Installation of the DOC units will cost approximately $1,200 to $2,500 each and will affect 7,500 vehicles. DOC filters are one of the clean technology options that are easily installed on most vehicles, require virtually no maintenance, do not have a negative impact on vehicle performance or fuel consumption, and are compatible with biodiesel.

While emission standards for diesel vehicles have been improving, a pre-1994 heavy duty diesel truck can emit 60 times the particulate matter of a newer model, noted Guff Muench, president of Cummins Western Canada. Depending on the type of diesel used and on the engine, DOC filters can reduce those emissions by 25 to 50 percent, he added.

The new regulation will affect only heavy-duty diesel vehicles 5,000 kilograms or more, including on-road commercially licensed diesel vehicles and government-owned fleet vehicles. Recreational vehicles, motor coaches, pickup trucks, construction equipment and unlicensed non-road vehicles will not be affected.

However, once in place, the B.C. government will continue to consult with industry and other stakeholders to incorporate other model years and other sizes of vehicles. British Columbia is the first jurisdiction in North America to make retro-fit technology mandatory, although California is planning to make it mandatory by 2009 as well.

Particulate matter (PM) is one of the most significant air pollution problems in British Columbia. Sources include including residential wood burning, the lumber industry, and vehicles. Particulate matter from diesel-fuelled engines has been identified as a toxic air contaminant and a probable carcinogen.

These particles are complex substances typically consisting of a carbon core with absorbed hydrocarbons, sulphates, water and inorganic materials. Diesel particles are generally less than 2.5 microns in diameter, allowing them to penetrate deep into lungs. Most heavy-duty vehicles operate in areas where people live, exposing other motorists, cyclists and pedestrians to high concentrations of PM. They are easily installed on most vehicles, require virtually no maintenance and do not adversely affect vehicle performance or fuel consumption. Diesel Oxidation Catalyst (DOC) filters reduce emissions by at least 25 per cent, and when combined with ultra-low sulphur diesel fuel, DOCs may reach efficiencies of up to 50 per cent. DOCs are compatible with biodiesel, so the increasing use of this fuel will result in even greater reductions of diesel particulate matter.

It is expected that the installation of Diesel Oxidation Catalysts on 1989-93 on-road, heavy-duty diesel vehicles will reduce total PM emissions in British Columbia by 30 to 60 tonnes. This constitutes an overall net reduction of 3.4 per cent of particulate matter.

In consultation with the affected stakeholders, B.C. will inventory the on-road, heavy-duty diesel vehicle fleet in order to identify typical owners and vehicle usages. Representatives of these groups will be consulted and their input will be used to create an implementation plan and to shape any required legislation. Once in place, the regulations will be expanded to include other types of vehicles. Emissions standards for British Columbia will be continuously reviewed and improved.

For More Information: Government of British Columbia