Tech Torque FRASER STRONACH

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents - FRASER STRONACH

THE Nis­san Pa­trol that Aus­tralia has em­braced over the past 50 years, even back to when it was called a Dat­sun Pa­trol, is a goner. From Novem­ber 1, 2016, Nis­san won’t be able to legally sell you an old-school Pa­trol, as it’s pow­ered by what is an un­ac­cept­ably ‘dirty’ diesel en­gine – ac­cord­ing to the lat­est ex­haust emis­sion stan­dards, known as Euro 5 (see ‘Euro 5 Ex­plained’ side­bar).

Back in 2007 the Pa­trol was also dealt a blow when the much-loved 4.2-litre six­cylin­der diesel was the vic­tim of Euro 4 ex­haust emis­sions stan­dards.

You can still buy a Pa­trol af­ter Novem­ber 1, but that Pa­trol, known as the Y62, is sev­eral worlds apart from the old Y61 Pa­trol. Among other things, the new Pa­trol has a 5.6-litre petrol V8 that pro­duces up to 27 per cent more car­bon diox­ide (green­house gas) than the soonto-be out­lawed diesel.

You could ar­gue that there’s a bias against diesel en­gines in these reg­u­la­tions, and in a way that’s true, but diesel emis­sions are more im­me­di­ately dan­ger­ous to hu­man health – es­pe­cially in crowded cites – than petrol emis­sions, and Europe has plenty of big cities and gen­er­ally high pop­u­la­tion den­si­ties. So where a petrol en­gine’s larger green­house­gas out­put might be killing the planet, diesel emis­sions, if not cleaned up, will kill you more quickly. What’s more, car­bon diox­ide out­put (like fuel con­sump­tion) isn’t reg­u­lated un­der Euro reg­u­la­tions.

The im­ple­men­ta­tion of Euro 5 has caused a flurry of other ac­tiv­ity across the mar­ket, and it’s not just re­stricted to the Pa­trol. The new 2.8-litre diesel en­gine in Toy­ota’s Prado comes courtesy of Euro 5, and like­wise the tim­ing of the re­lease of new Hilux which shares the Prado’s new diesel en­gine. The 70 Se­ries Landcruiser’s V8 diesel is also be­ing up­dated with new tech­nol­ogy to make it Euro 5 com­pli­ant.

Com­pared to Euro 4, Euro 5 (as ap­plied to diesels) brings no change in car­bon monox­ide lim­its and lit­tle change in the le­gal lev­els of NOX. But emis­sions of par­tic­u­late mat­ter, or so-called soot, have been slashed ten­fold to match that of petrol en­gines. So it’s no sur­prise that the in­tro­duc­tion of Diesel Par­tic­u­late Fil­ters (DPFS) is the key tech­no­log­i­cal change be­hind com­pli­ance with Euro 5. In fact, it’s as sim­ple as this: no DPF means no hope of meet­ing Euro 5.

Diesel Par­tic­u­late Fil­ters are high­tech de­vices that clean them­selves. They gen­er­ally do this via a spe­cial en­gine pro­gram that de­tects when the fil­ter is full, heats up the ex­haust stream and then adds ex­tra fuel, which trig­gers a cat­alytic re­ac­tion in the fil­ter that burns off the col­lected soot in a rel­a­tively harm­less man­ner.

The trou­ble is, all this needs high-tech elec­tronic con­trol of all the en­gine’s key sys­tems, which isn’t cost ef­fec­tive to fit to an ex­ist­ing diesel en­gine given that an older diesel en­gine’s ba­sic de­sign (bore/ stroke re­la­tion­ship, cylin­der-head shape, etc.) would also be out of date.

Will DPFS be a prob­lem? Well yes, they’ve al­ready proven to be far from in­fal­li­ble, as any bit of tech­nol­ogy al­ways is. It’s just some­thing else to go wrong. How­ever, the prob­lems with DPFS gen­er­ally come from ve­hi­cles that are used for noth­ing but very short city com­mutes, where the ex­haust gas can’t get hot enough to trig­ger the DPF self-clean­ing.

Euro 6 is slated (but still un­der some dis­cus­sion) to ar­rive lo­cally in July 2017 for new-de­sign ve­hi­cles and by July 2018 across the board. It tar­gets NOX emis­sions, which was largely left alone with Euro 5. And just as Euro 5 means DPFS, Euro 6 means Se­lec­tive Cat­alytic Re­duc­tion (SCR) tech­nol­ogy us­ing Diesel Ex­haust Fluid, com­monly known as Ad­blue, of­ten based on urea and giv­ing a dis­tinc­tive am­mo­nia smell.

Some ve­hi­cles, like the Ford Ever­est, al­ready have SCR and are there­fore ready for Euro 6. Like DPFS, SCR adds an­other level of com­plex­ity to the en­gine and also brings the need to re­plen­ish the Ad­blue fluid – usu­ally, but not ex­clu­sively, as a stan­dard ser­vice pro­ce­dure.

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