Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page -

FUEL sup­ple­ment Ad­blue is in­creas­ingly ap­pear­ing in Euro 6 com­pli­ant cars and pick­ups and is prov­ing a less than straight­for­ward, or pop­u­lar, piece of ve­hi­cle tech­nol­ogy.

Ad­blue is a low tech by­pass to ever tight­en­ing Euro emis­sions reg­u­la­tions, par­tic­u­larly from diesel en­gines and in­volves adding a sec­ond tank to the car with an ad­di­tional filler noz­zle nor­mally (but not al­ways) lo­cated next to the fuel filler cap.

It’s HGV tech­nol­ogy that has made its way to the smaller ve­hi­cle mar­ket.

A se­lec­tive cat­alytic re­duc­tion (SCR) sys­tem in­jects a mix­ture of wa­ter and urea into the ve­hi­cle ex­haust gases to clean up nox­ious emis­sions.

BMW, Audi, Volk­swa­gen, Mercedes and Citroen com­monly use Ad­blue, (of­ten iden­ti­fied by Blue badg­ing). It can equate to five per cent of diesel use and add sig­nif­i­cantly to ve­hi­cle run­ning costs, par­tic­u­larly as — like diesel — Ad­blue con­sump­tion in­creases as speed rises.

When an Ad­blue tank runs dry, the en­gine goes into “limp” mode and will refuse to restart un­til re­plen­ished.

Ad­blue con­tain­ers must not be kept in­side ve­hi­cles — it is un­pleas­ant stuff. An eye and lung ir­ri­tant and cor­ro­sive — any spills will dam­age paint- work and the ve­hi­cle in­te­rior (some makes place the reser­voir in­side the car re­quir­ing a span­ner to open it). Ad­blue should be han­dled as you would bat­tery acid, or paint strip­per.

A less ob­vi­ous ir­ri­tant and hid­den ex­pense is that once opened Ad­blue con­tain­ers can­not be stored — it ab­sorbs con­tam­i­nants from the air and un­used fuel ad­di­tive should be dis­posed of im­me­di­ately.

Price varies dra­mat­i­cally so shop around to min­imise ad­di­tional ex­pense. Never di­lute Ad­blue or put wa­ter in the reser­voir, the SCR sys­tem will fail com­pletely and a sub­stan­tial re­pair bill will not be cov­ered un­der war­ranty.

The good news is that not all ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers have opted to go down the Ad­blue route. Subaru and Isuzu have both in­vested heav­ily in ad­vanced en­gine tech­nol­ogy that min­imises harm­ful N02 emis­sions and avoid the use of Ad­blue or other fuel ad­di­tives through their com­plete ve­hi­cle ranges. This ap­proach re­sults in no ad­di­tional com­plex­ity for the ve­hi­cle driver when re­fu­elling, no ad­di­tive costs and no in­fu­ri­at­ing en­gine “limp” modes or re­fusal to restart.

Isuzu’s D-max em­ploys an in­no­va­tive self-cleans­ing cham­ber within the pick-up’s ex­haust sys­tem. As the ve­hi­cle is be­ing driven it con­stantly mon­i­tors its own emis­sions and self-cleanses when re­quired through an ad­di­tional burn process — no Ad­blue or other ex­pen­sive ad­di­tives are re­quired. The D-max con­tin­ues to drive nor­mally through the re­gen­er­a­tion process and the driver will be un­aware it’s even hap­pen­ing.

For the Subaru or Isuzu driver sig­nif­i­cant man­u­fac­turer in­vest­ment means life re­mains pleas­antly free of new com­plex­i­ties or spe­cial­ist knowl­edge, yet their ve­hi­cles still de­liver en­vi­ably miserly lev­els of fuel con­sump­tion in real world driv­ing con­di­tions.

Long may that ap­proach con­tinue and hope­fully other man­u­fac­tur­ers will mimic them.

It’s worth not­ing that in the most heav­ily reg­u­lated emis­sions mar­ket — the USA — Subaru out­sell all the Ger­man brands com­bined.

Keep­ing tech­nol­ogy sim­ple, and user friendly may be just what cus­tomers re­ally want?

The Isuzu Cen­tu­rion and Subaru Boxer (above) en­gines both ben­e­fit from built-in self-cleans­ing tech­nol­ogy

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