39 thoughts on “The Catastrophic DEF Shortage”

  1. I suspect that this isn’t a problem if you can plug a laptop into your truck’s computer. Also, what happens if you just fill your DEP tank with water and piss at the truck stop?

    1. May want to boil it down a bit first – apparently DEF is 33% or so urea, which seems to be somewhat more concentrated than urine usually is.

    2. The DEF sensor will detect contaminated DEF and put the engine into limp home mode.

      2021 F350 Powerstroke 6.7

        1. Since I’m not willing to pee on a spark plug, I probably won’t pee on this sensor either….

    1. This problem could be mitigated in 2 minutes.

      Our leaders are not serious people.

      1. No, they are not serious. They are evil bastards. This is yet another example of intentionally crashing the economy.

    2. That one only works for the big RV diesels, not pickup truck ones. That said, there’s likely a similar solution, lots of engine tuners out there from people like Edge.

    3. Hilarious–the heart of it is just a board with a $1 microcontroller and a CAN bus. I noticed they’re not supplying the program source, though, which seems rude, but it’s basically an Arduino sketch.

      1. I noticed they’re not supplying the program source, though, which seems rude,
        Between the hours of 7-9pm weeknights, head over to the basement walk-down right off the corner of 4th and E. Main. Knock twice fast and three times slow. When the slot in the door opens tell ’em Peevey sent you and pass in your USB flash stick. In a couple of minutes you’ll get it back with a file you can boot into to the Arduino. Once you get your stick back, don’t linger.

        1. LOL!

          No, they’ll give you the binary blob, but without the source, it’d probably be a lot harder to modify this to work with a pickup like Eric Weder mentions above.

  2. Had this panic in Australia a few months ago. Government got a local company to make it. Haven’t heard any more since.
    Mind you we have a natural gas shortage because while we have plenty it is tied up in long term export contracts and our coal fired power stations haven’t had maintenance for years because of preferences given to wind and solar and the east coast is under threat of rolling blackouts.
    We had new carpet put into a couple of rooms a couple of weeks ago. When even the carpet layer tells you the world is broken you’d better believe it.

    1. Don’t take any trains that go through tunnels. Just saying.

      Come to think of it, something like the Taggart crash could happen on a bridge, too.

  3. I haven’t checked but I’m assuming this lunacy isn’t part of diesel powered agriculture. I know for example farm diesel is a cheaper blend but is a different color than road diesel. You don’t want to be a long hauler and get caught with farm diesel in your rig. I assume the same holds for DEF?

    1. The farm diesel doesn’t have the road tax.

      The #2 home heating oil also doesn’t have the road tax. I am told that farm, road and heating fuel oil are the same thing apart from how they are taxed.

      1. Paul, I don’t believe that is true. I believe road diesel has more additives in it to cut down on emissions. It’s not that you can’t burn farm diesel in a semi-tractor, you can, but it doesn’t have those extra additives. And they made it a different color so police (typically state police) can dip a “turkey baster” into your tank, suck out a little and see instantly what you’re burning. Farmers might want to keep their diesel pickups off the Interstate highways if they’re burning farm diesel. Same goes for #2 home heating oil, although that’s slightly heaver and might need an injector pump adjustment to burn efficiently. But you are right, it is all taxed differently. That’s probably the biggest contributor to the price differentials.

        1. Paul, I believe I heard that you are partially correct in that both farm and road diesel started out the same (except for tax and color) but over time the EPA just couldn’t keep their hands off road diesel, probably because the ag lobby & Congress prevented them from doing the same costly reformulations to ag fuel. This all started way back when. 1980s?

          1. When I was helping my dad farm back in the 60s, and 70s there was no such thing as farm diesel and road diesel, just diesel. But we did weather the change from leaded to unleaded in our cars, trucks and gas tractors. We did that one cold turkey, since that was in the days before ethanol…

          2. The farm diesel is now ultra-low sulfur, and it didn’t used to be at the BP station pump. Just a few years back, only the road diesel was labeled ultra-low sulfur.

            There is actually a benefit to sulfur in the fuel — it is said to be easier on the injection pump, kind of like how the lead in gasoline was easier on the valve seats. One of the deals with general aviation holding out for a leaded fuel is that no-lead gas needed engine design changes to not wear out.

            I now use a diesel additive I buy at the Fleet Farm store. This is kind likr of people with old performance cars designed for leaded gas buying some manner of gas treatment.

            Starting the tractor used to give off that characteristic “diesel stink.” These days, the smoke on cold-start smells like paraffin candle wax, which is what ultra-low sulfur #2 diesel fuel is, a low molecular weight paraffin.

    2. Off road diesel is exactly the same as road diesel, with the exception of red dye that marks it as off road. It’s cheaper than road diesel because it isn’t taxed. That’s the only difference. The dye remains detectable at a low level and the fine for being caught with dyed fuel on a road licensed vehicle starts at $10,000. The inspectors have instruments for just this.

      DEF is injected into the exhaust soot filter periodically to regenerate it. No DEF, no regeneration, blocked exhaust, failed engine, all in short succession.

      As they show, DEF is easy to make, the amount of urea needed compared to agriculture is fairly small, I’m betting this is never more than a scare story.

      Urea is used as fertilizer but other sources of nitrogen can be substituted if necessary. Like everything else, it’ll come down to price, if the price comes up enough to make it profitable, domestic production will come on line.

        1. Off road diesel was allowed to remain at the higher sulfur level for a while after the new ultra low sulfur fuel was required for road use. That ended several years ago. Diesel in this country is governed by ASTM D975.

  4. “The DEF sensor will detect contaminated DEF and put the engine into limp home mode.”

    What voltage does the sensor produce to run the engine? Cut sensor and send that voltage to the microprocessor.

    1. Not a voltage signal. CANbus is a digital communication protocol that is used in most modern vehicles. The module actually talks to the microprocessor running the engine.

      1. And even if it was, the engine probably will refuse to run–or run derated–if it can’t detect the sensor.

        It’s like how with a modern car if you have a bad catalytic converter, you can’t unplug the battery and plug it back in and then go get your emissions test. The engine will say the sensor’s not ready, and you automatically fail the test.

        Then you get to deal with the annoyance of modern cars like mine, that basically force you to drive about 2-300 miles before the sensor comes back online. Had it happen twice with my current car, because the battery needed to be replaced right before my inspection was due.

          1. Emissions testing, from what I’ve read, is pretty much a waste of time (i.e., government cash grab) on modern cars like my 2015. But I guess there’s still too many Democrats in government in my state.

      2. Take the sensor and stick it into a container of DEF that isn’t used?
        Just trying to defeat the bureaucratic state.

  5. Euro Union farm equipment has the same emissions nonsense as road equipment. Friend of mine buys this stuff for his broad acre farm. Actually not really acres, more like square kilometers. Was up to 130 square kilometers last I heard.

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