01:46 PM

Preparing for 2013 EPA Tier 4 Reefers

Refrigerated trailer fleets will soon be impacted by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tier 4 Final emissions standards for transport refrigeration unit (TRU) diesel engines. The new standards, which take effect January 1, 2013 will affect operations and budgets.

For reefer engines, the new regulations require reductions of as much as 90 percent in particulate matter (PM) and 30 percent in nitrogen oxide (NOx) compared to interim standards that have applied to these units since 2008. The new EPA requirements do not affect trailers that are now in service.

The challenge that refrigeration unit manufacturers are now preparing to meet is in some ways greater than that for truck engine emissions standards. For on-highway diesels, new emission rules were phased in over a seven-year period while standards for TRU engines require most of the emissions reduction targets to be met at once.To meet the new standards, TRU manufacturers will begin using emissions control technologies similar to those now found on tractor engines. To meet Tier 4 Final standards, manufacturers are also looking into technologies that could include electronic controls, turbochargers, catalytic converters, exhaust recirculation devices and diesel particulate filters.

The implementation of EPA Tier 4 Final emissions standards for TRUs could have several effects on refrigerated fleets. In addition to considering the expected higher cost of the new units when planning budgets, fleets will need to train drivers and technicians to operate and maintain the new refrigeration equipment.

Trailer manufacturers and their refrigeration unit suppliers are geared up to help customers navigate the uncharted territory that will come with the new TRU designs. Plans calls for providing driver and technician training and for making maintenance resources available.

Manufacturers are also prepared to ramp up production and schedule orders for new refrigerated trailers so their customers will have the equipment they need to meet freight hauling demand over the next several years. The pending EPA Tier 4 Final TRU regulations are one of several factors that are now causing an increase in demand for new refrigerated trailers.

Refrigerated trailer operators and their suppliers can also look back on their success in meeting California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulations for TRUs, and use that experience as a model for preparing to meet the new EPA Tier 4 Final regulations with minimal disruption to their business.

CARB regulations required refrigerated carriers operating in California to replace or upgrade refrigeration units that were more than seven years old, unless certain electric standby protocols were in place. Many fleets were able to comply with these requirements and avoid replacing reefers by working with manufacturers to update TRU engines or install diesel particulate filters.

The upcoming Tier 4 Final EPA regulations for TRUs are a new incentive for refrigerated fleets and manufacturers to work together to adopt technologies that will meet the standards and provide effective performance. Working in partnership with experienced trailer and refrigeration unit suppliers, the process of adopting these new technologies will not only be more efficient, but will help achieve cost, operational and environ- mental protection goals.