Local governments and utilities are doing their part: diesel emission reduction in Kansas City

This the third post in a five-part series about diesel emissions reduction in the Kansas City area. Follow along for more information about how schools, railroads and private-sector companies are working to make Kansas City’s air cleaner.

DERA-Blog-local-govtLocal governments and utility companies typically maintain a large fleet of heavy-duty trucks and equipment to maintain critical infrastructure. Many government fleets have begun including some vehicles that run on biodiesel fuel, and a few governments in the region — including Kansas City, Mo., and Johnson County, Kan. — are building alternative fuel fleets using compressed natural gas and plug-in electrical power. However, almost all utilities and local governments still use a lot of diesel equipment.

In recent years, city operations and maintenance programs have worked diligently to balance purchasing new equipment — equipped with the latest emissions controls and technology — with the need to pay for other services and investments. Equipment maintenance is extremely important, since cities need to get more working hours out of older equipment while still responding rapidly and effectively to citizen needs. As part of this ongoing maintenance, many city leaders have committed to retrofit older equipment to reduce harmful emissions and improve air quality.

Nearly all funding for the diesel retrofits installed on government and utility vehicles has come from the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Clean Diesel Campaign under the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA). Most of the retrofits involve the same two types of emissions control devices discussed for buses: Diesel Oxidation Catalysts (DOCs) which capture 20–30 percent of tailpipe emissions otherwise released from the muffler; and Closed Crankcase Ventilations systems (CCVs) which reduce emissions another 5–19 percent.

Some cities have opted to retrofit a few vehicles with more expensive — but more effective — diesel particulate filters (DPFs) instead of DOCs. DPFs have a highly reactive filter which collects 90 percent or more of the particulate emitted from the engine.  A number of fuel operated heaters (FOHs) have also been installed on heavy-duty diesel trucks which are needed during critical winter operations. FOHs reduce warm-up time and get vehicles on the road more quickly during winter storms.

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