AGCO Corp. is stepping out into new territory for U.S. farm equipment manufacturers with its e3 clean air technology, but it's not exactly moving into uncharted waters.

Trucking company operators and manufacturers in Europe have already been making use of the Selective Catalytic Reduction or SCR systems that are the basis of the e3 technology for three years, according to a trucking industry expert.

“Mercedes Benz-Daimler has produced more than 250,000 SCR technology vehicles, and in Europe, overall, there's been more than 500,000 trucks produced with SCR technology,” says David L. Uschwald, director of SCR Infrastructure with Detroit Diesel Corp.

“SCR technology is chosen by Detroit Diesel, Daimler, Freightliner, Western Star and others mainly for purposes of increased durability. You can run the engine to meet demand and worry about treating the exhaust past the engine. Of course, fuel economy is a factor as well as reduced cost of ownership.”

Uschwald spoke to a group of agricultural editors attending AGCO's launch of its new AGCO Tractor, Challenger and Massey Ferguson high horsepower tractor series. Each of the new tractors comes equipped with e3 SCR technology.

Selective Catalytic Reduction is a proven emission-control system designed to lower emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter from the exhaust gases of diesel engines, says Garry Ball, director of engineering for AGCO. The company has chosen SCR as the method it will use to meet EPA's emission standards for off-road diesel engines.

The new e3 system (e3 stands for energy/economy/ecology) is a post-combustion, after-treatment process that takes place within the exhaust system itself. With e3 a NOx reducing agent, or Diesel Exhaust Fluid, is injected into the exhaust gas upstream of the e3 catalyst chamber.

When heated, a liquid urea solution, the active ingredient in DEF, turns to ammonia and reacts with NOx from the exhaust to convert the pollutants into nitrogen, water vapor and tiny amounts of carbon dioxide. AGCO says the e3 technology alone can achieve NOx reductions in excess of 90 percent.

“We believe the timing is very good for the e3 technology,” says Bob Crain, senior vice-president and general manager for Duluth, Ga.-based AGCO. “The SCR technology is very different, but our dealers have known about it for a year and have been preparing for it.”

“The key to the success of e3 is the fact that it's a post-combustion process,” says Ball. “It stays out of the way of what the engine is built to do — provide power. After the exhaust leaves the engine, all that remains is to reduce the nitrogen oxides. Our e3 technology is an effective, thoroughly tested method of doing just that.”

Uschwald said Diesel Exhaust Fluid is a solution of de-ionized water and 32.5 percent automotive grade urea. The DEF is carried in a separate tank on board the tractor and is consumed at the rate of about three gallons of DEF for every 100 gallons of diesel. “Typically, a farmer will fill his DEF tank every second fuel fill up.”

Detroit Diesel and a number of other companies are setting up a distribution system for DEF, which will be sold in 2.5-gallon jugs, 10-liter and mini-bulk containers, that will include many truck stop chain locations. DEF can also be purchased at any AGCO Tractor, Massey Ferguson or Challenger dealership.