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July 04, 2019 3 min read

What is DEF Fluid?

DEF or Diesel Exhaust Fluid is an emissions control liquid required by modern diesel engines across the world. A common misunderstanding is that DEF is added to the diesel fuel. This is NOT true. It is a solution of 32.5% urea in 67.5% de-ionized water. DEF is clear and colourless, and looks like water. It has a small scent of ammonia, similar to other cleaning agents. DEF removes harmful NOx emissions that are caused from diesel engines.

What is Urea?

Urea is a component in many products we use daily. The human body even produces Urea. But what exactly is it? Commercial grade urea is a compound made up of synthetic ammonia and carbon dioxide. When urea is subjected to high levels of heat it can product a liquid or solid form. Most commonly this is seen in fertilizer.

Urea comes in many different grades. The highest grade is used in the solutionizing of DEF and AdBlue. This higher grade Urea is stripped of many contaminates to allow the SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) system to be able to tolerate the compound.

What is the difference between AdBlue, DEF and SCR?

The technical term for the technology is actually Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR). "AdBlue" is actually just a trademarked name that belongs to a German automotive company. But that seems to have become the standard term in some countries. In North America, however, the standard terms are SCR and DEF. DEF is the fluid used in the SCR process.

So if someone is saying AdBlue, DEF, or even BlueTec; chances are they are all talking about the same thing.

Why is DEF important

How long does DEF last?

Def lasts between 1 and 2 years. This depends on a number of factors that boil down to how it is handled and stored. DEF must be stored in a temperature controlled area. This means that if you are buying bulk DEF for a mine operation or a industrial facility, the infrastructure needed must be built by experts. Otherwise money will be lost, extreme clean ups will be needed, and equipment will break.

Fireball Equipment is an industry leader with bulk DEF handling, storage, pumping, and infrastructure. With DEF being new to the Tier 4 engine market, the misunderstandings that business stakeholders have can cost millions in equipment loss, downtime, and rebuilding infrastructure properly. 

Can DEF freeze?

YES! DEF can freeze and will cause major issues. In bulk applications, DEF freezing can cause tremendous damage to equipment. The storage of DEF must be done properly to ensure there is no downtime created for the business. If you are looking for a bulk DEF storage solution for extreme cold and weather conditions visit Fireball Equipment Ltd.

Is DEF expensive?

It is relative. DEF is around $40 for 10L when purchased in small quantities. What this translates to is about $0.005 per km. So the cost is not significant. Our clients purchase DEF for large Mine Operations so the bills can be quite expensive. But the relative cost is not large. You must account for the equipment to store, ship, pump, and maintain the DEF fluid. As well as the man hours required for these systems. Then the relevant expense can become larger.

How to heat DEF fluid?

Bulk applications requiring DEF to be temperature controlled are possible and are used in remote mine sites across the world. The most common solution that we see is the DEF1400. The DEF1400 is able to store 25,000L (6,600 gal) with a configurable tank that can connect to an externally heated tank where to volume is limitless. These tanks are used for extreme remote and cold locations where the failure to maintain your DEF fluid would cause major site interruptions. The DEF1000 series can be easily shipped, moved while on site, and reconfigured to increase capacity at any time. This is why it is a leading industry solution for remote Mine Sites globally.

Best way to store Bulk DEF?

First it depends on conditions and accessibility. If you are in a warm climate and the capacity being stored is below 1000L then there are a number of tote solutions available on the market. 

For capacities over 1000L, where high speed transfer is often needed, the solutions ranged based on needs. Low temperature and high accessibility needed? The DEF1000 seriescan handle pretty much anything thrown at it and has the ability to increase capacity at any time. It is the industry leader when it comes to harsh conditions, quality and performance. 

For capacities over 1000L Fireball Equipment has a DEF2000 Series that does the job. These are most commonly seen at gas stations where a quick dispense is needed, climate controlled environments are unnecessary but performance is important.  


Fireball Equipment Ltd.
16815 117 Avenue NW, Unit #110, 
Edmonton, AB T5M 3V6
Phone: (780) 944-4818
Fax: (780) 944-4898

For Parts And Service

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