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Preparing the off-road toolbox: BASF Catalysts readies for the challenges of off-road emissions regulations.


While most of the tightening emissions regulations have been targeted toward the on-highway and light-duty automotive industries, aftertreatment manufacturers are preparing for the next tier of regulations set to hit the off-road market. For BASF Catalysts, an emissions control supplier, the off-road market poses additional challenges, toward which the company plans to leverage its experience in the on-highway emissions business.

Based in Islin, N.J., BASF Catalysts is the global division of German BASF AG. In 2006, BASF acquired catalyst producer Engelhard Corp. and rolled the company into the BASF Catalysts division specifically devoted to catalyst technologies. Through the acquisition of Engelhard, BASF has created vertical integration from raw materials through finished product and design, building off the expertise of all its internal divisions.

"The thing that's really changed is the depth of what we have," said Frank Ardite, commercial director at BASF Catalysts. "We relied on suppliers to help us out with a lot of different things. We would go out to a raw material supplier and say here's what we're looking for. Now, we go internally to our R&D groups and they feed new materials and ideas into the catalyst division."

The scope of BASF's investments and planning have also expanded with more than 100 million [euro] earmarked for capital expansions this year to support both short- and long-term strategic plan objectives.

"There's a long-term view especially about the catalyst business," said Ardite. "We see all these tighter regulations going forward. We know long term it's going to be a good business. There's this long-term view about where we want to be in 10, 15 years. We make the right investments now to make sure that we're ready to handle that growth."

As BASF steps into the off-road emissions arena, it's arming itself with a full toolbox of experience and products to handle the array of equipment types, duty cycles and applications this market brings. Unlike on-highway vehicles where so much of the emissions regulations up until now have been focused, off-road equipment presents a whole new set of challenges.


"With a Class 8 truck, you know what the cycles are going to be," said Ardite. "It's going to be on the highway. There's going to be some idle time. You just work within those confines. When it comes to off-road, it might be a small bulldozer to a huge crane, and there are hundreds of applications. You really need to design a catalyst and work with the engine supplier and vehicle supplier to refine those things. You'll have the same toolbox of catalysts but the opportunity exists to work with the engine companies to really apply it differently."

The off-road industry will see a stream of diesel oxidation catalysts (DOCs), catalyzed soot filters, partial DOCs, and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) catalysts from BASF. While these products have been optimized over time for the automotive and truck industry, for off-road they will require some additional tweaking.

"The challenge is proliferation," said Ardite. "We work very hard to see how we can keep things common across all their platforms to make it cost-effective. You'll see some differences in engines where some may chose to tune their engine for high [NO.sub.x] and use an SCR-type application--an approach some OEMs claim can help improve fuel economy. You may see some others that choose to tune high PM and low [NO.sub.x] and use a filter-type application. Regardless of the approach, space is at an even higher premium for off-road than on-road. BASF is working on integrated catalyst technology to help the OEM with this challenge."

Much of the responsibility of BASF or any aftertreatment manufacturer is education, as they are often the first-hand messengers of how a filter/catalyst can be used to meet the emissions requirement. "Our model is really to work directly with the engine OEMs and help them prove different technologies that they can apply to their engine application," said Ardite. "Certainly those people that are in on-road and off-road are very experienced at this. The others that are just off-road, they've learned it very quickly.


"All the OEMs that we've talked to are in a good position. Some of them are at different levels of knowledge on how catalysts work just from the inexperience of not using it, but they understand emissions, they understand regulations and they are working closely with us. They know what they want to do. They just need help from us to explain how a catalyst works and how to tie it into their system."

With the bulk of that knowledge already in place, BASF is currently in the midst of decision time as Ardite said, "The majority of its customers will select their technology pathways this year in 2009."

During the interim, BASF has been busy. "We're doing things like modifying some of our engine test facilities specifically for the off-road cycles," said Ardite. "We're also looking at our global manufacturing capabilities in different regions just to make sure we can provide customers with specific new products and services that serve local market needs and upcoming regulations."


BASF Catalysts has dedicated emissions catalyst manufacturing sites in Shanghai, China; Chennai, India; Rayong, Thailand; Nienburg, Germany; Huntsville, Ala.; Indaiatuba, Brazil; Krasnogorsk, Russia; and Port Elizabeth, South Africa; as well as joint venture operations in Japan and Korea.

Operating in a down economy, BASF remains optimistic. "It's affecting everyone pretty similarly," said Ardite. "Short term, it's been an impact on the revenue stream and the amount of product we have to produce. In the long term we still see it as a great growth business. We're making sure we don't do anything that would sacrifice our ability to serve the future market. We have to keep doing the work on those products to where they're at a point where they can become prime paths. We're looking at finalizing some of those components in the toolbox to specially take care of some of the challenges we see in off-road."

Retrofitting Hong Kong

Every day, more than 3 million passengers travel along Hong Kong's busy transit system. Hong Kong is a city affected with street-level air pollution from the increasing number of vehicles in the urban area and the miles driven. The Hong Kong government has instituted a number of initiatives to combat the problem, including a diesel retrofit program aimed at reducing emissions from buses, trucks and vans.

One of the latest measures of the program has been the installation of diesel particulate filters (DPFs) on a fleet of Euro 2 and 3 buses, bringing them to the Euro 5 standard for PM emissions. The city will retrofit 2300 buses in the Kowloon Motor Bus Co. Ltd., The New World First Bus Services Ltd., Citybus Co. Ltd. and New Lantao Bus Co. Ltd. companies' fleets.

The fleets consist of Volvo Super Olympian and Olympian buses powered by 9.6 L Volvo D10A diesel engines and Dennis Trident and Dragon buses with 10.8 L Cummins M-11 diesels.


For the retrofit, the buses will be equipped with BASF's DPX Max filters. The DPX Max DPFs are designed to trap particulates in the exhaust, using a patented catalyst to continuously burn soot during normal diesel operating exhaust temperatures. By installing the filter, the Euro 2 engines will meet Euro 5 standards, reducing PM emissions more than 80%.

BASF Catalysts' distributor, Consolidated Parts and Accessories Sales Centre Ltd, supplied the filter-containing mufflers for the buses and will provide the maintenance service for installation. Consolidated has been appointed by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region as one of the official contractors for the "Voluntary Installation of Subsidized Particulate Removal Devices Scheme"--one of the largest retrofit programs in the world.

According to BASF, installation of the DPFs averaged four hours per bus and included integration of a backpressure monitor system.

Installation of the DPX Max filters began in October '08. The retrofit project is estimated for completion in mid-2010.

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Author:Geske, Dawn M.
Publication:Diesel Progress North American Edition
Article Type:Company overview
Date:May 1, 2009
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