No urea needed in aftertreatment system, Eaton exec says

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As part of its continuing focus on technology and new product development, Eaton Corp. is working on a selective catalytic reduction aftertreatment system that eliminates the need for urea distribution infrastructure and onboard tanks, Jim Sweetnam, Eaton’s chief executive officer – truck group, told CCJ editors during this week’s American Trucking Associations annual meeting in New Orleans.

The system combines a fuel dosing unit, fuel reformer catalyst, NOx trap and an SCR catalyst in series to scrub NOx from the system, Sweetnam says. While most planned SCR systems need to convert urea into ammonia in order to catalyze NOx, Eaton’s system generates its own ammonia onboard, he says.

“We’ve seen lots of interest in off-highway applications where it’s difficult to get urea,” Sweetnam said. The system will not be ready in time to be used in conjunction with on-highway SCR engines being developed to meet the 2010 emissions regulations, he said. All engine makers except Navistar currently plan to use some form of SCR to meet the new regulations.

Eaton also has a new generation of automated transmissions in the works featuring electronically controlled actuation, which increases engage-disengage speed. Targeting the vocational market, the transmissions will be released in limited quantities later this year. An on-highway version will follow next year.

The company also continues to focus on hybrid technology, Sweetnam said. Eaton hybrid systems are engineered into trucks built by all North American truck manufacturers except Volvo, which doesn’t compete in the medium-duty market that is leading hybrid development and which plans to develop its own system for Class 8 applications.

While hybrid-powered vehicles cost more than traditional models, depending on the current price of diesel, the payback can be substantial: up to a 30 percent improvement in fuel economy and up to a 60 percent reduction in emissions. For fleets to adopt this technology, “the economics have to be there,” Sweetnam said. “I haven’t met a customer yet that would do it strictly for the environment.”