Non-attainment zones are regions that do not conform to mandates in the Clean Air Act due to excessive levels of one or more regulated pollutants. Officials governing non-attainment zones must develop approved strategies to achieve compliance, which often means tougher diesel emissions regulations. As these regional restrictions continue to spread, consider the impact while there is time to develop a strategy.
"Contractors who want to bid on work in a non-attainment zone need to know what mandated local regulations or contract requirements their equipment must meet," says Clint Schroer, off-highway communications for Cummins Inc.
Many regions have targeted specific solutions. "The impact on equipment owners in non-attainment areas - which includes most major metropolitan regions across the U.S. - is significant and will require that the engines in their equipment be upgraded to comply with local regulations," states Glen Chrusciel, program manager, repower and retrofit for John Deere Power Systems. "The four primary ways to achieve compliance are: retrofitting an existing engine with aftertreatment devices; repowering an older piece of equipment with a newer engine; purchasing new equipment; or rental of an emission-compliant machine."
Terry Sears, emissions solutions product manager at Caterpillar, adds, "In some regions, moving from an unregulated machine to a used Tier II will meet local requirements."
It's important to understand what emissions requirements specific regions are targeting and fit your fleet to those standards. "For example, in the Northeastern U.S., they are in non-attainment for particulate matter (PM) and are focused on aftertreatment. In Texas, they are focused on NOx (nitrogen oxide), so they would like to see more repowers," Sears points out. "If a contractor has picked up a job that requires a special machine only for a short period, the answer is to rent. It is a great way to get the latest equipment for a short period of time."
Projects in non-attainment zones have to be examined with all the alternatives in mind. "The most viable long-term solution is the one that allows the contractor to be competitive, and yet fits with their long-term equipment strategy," says Sears. "There is no one solution that fits all. It will take smart fleet management and combinations of new, used, rental and retrofit to navigate the future local emissions requirements."
DPFs prove cost effective but complex
"Retrofitting existing equipment with verified aftertreatment devices is a cost-effective solution, but it's also a complex process," says Chrusciel. "Retrofit programs typically require retrofit devices to be verified by either the EPA or California Air Resources Board (CARB)."
Most regulations focus on reduction of PM along with NOx. According to Chrusciel, "A retrofit program will identify the amount of emission reduction required by the verified device. In the case of PM reduction, there are three levels: Level 1 (greater than or equal to 25%), Level 2 (greater than or equal to 50%) and Level 3 (greater than or equal to 85%)." Select aftermarket devices with the highest verification levels (e.g., Level 3 PM) when retrofitting equipment to achieve best available control technology (BACT).
PM reduction can often be handled with a diesel particulate filter (DPF). "Cummins currently sees more DPF installations in the retrofit market than other types of aftertreatment systems," says Schroer. "So far, school buses, transit and refuse trucks have had the greatest demand for retrofits. Going forward, the technology can be applied to construction and agricultural equipment, ports, on-road trucks, locomotives, marine applications and so on."
The cost for a DPF can range from $2,000 and up. "The market for off-road retrofit is complex," says Schroer. "There is significant proliferation of equipment and engine combinations across all horsepower ranges and applications. Our strategy is to use our Tier IV development experience to bring products to the off-road market that will satisfy the BACT requirement and encompass various aftertreatment technologies."