North America

Debunking Myths About Tier 4 Final Diesel Engines

Volvo Penta teamed with PowerSecure and Miratech last year to present an educational webinar for facility managers and engineers on the latest developments in environmentally friendly diesel engines for power generation.

The webinar, entitled “The Clean Secret Behind Diesel”, covered issues and questions concerning diesel engines complying with EPA Tier 4 Final clean air standards, with a special focus on microgrid applications.

The educational event was hosted by Microgrid Knowledge magazine, and the moderator was Elisa Wood, energy journalist and editor-in-chief of the magazine. The speakers were Chris Ellis, executive vice president for distributed infrastructure at PowerSecure, Darren Tasker, vice president, industrial, at Volvo Penta of the Americas, and Jim McDonald, director of environmental impact at Miratech

EPA Emissions chart showing Tier 4 Final compared to other emissions tiers

Tasker commented: “Despite the proven results of Tier 4 Final diesels for power generation, particularly from an overall cost of ownership, reliability and emissions standpoint, there are still a lot of questions in the marketplace. Our goal with this webinar was to educate operators on the overall benefits of a simple, cost-effective and environmentally friendly package such as the one Volvo Penta and PowerSecure deliver.”

The opening presentation, delivered by Tasker, explained the EPA regulations on emission reduction, the most recent of which, Tier 4 Final, requires a reduction in NOx and particulate matter of up to 99 percent compared to previous emission requirements. He explained that Volvo Penta’s engines, which are used by PowerSecure, use a process called Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR), which reduces the NOx emissions by injecting a diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) into the exhaust. The DEF breaks down the NOx into harmless nitrogen and water vapor. At the same time, the Volvo Penta diesels are designed to reduce particulate matter in the engine’s cylinder with a very efficient combustion process. 

Tasker also noted that the Volvo Penta Tier 4 Final solution is extremely cost effective with very low operating and maintenance costs.

EPA Emissions chart showing Tier 4 Final compared to other emissions tiers

Ellis presented a discussion of the benefits of Tier 4 Final diesel for emergency standby or backup power for different applications, as compared to natural gas. He observed that Tier 4 Final diesel has almost twice the power density of a natural gas generator.

“Tier 4 Final diesel generators are currently being used for peak shaving, load management and resolving capacity constraint with utilities,” Ellis said. “It’s also being used for frequency response programs largely in the Southwest, where there’s plenty of solar capacity on the grid.”

EPA Emissions chart showing Tier 4 Final compared to other emissions tiers

McDonald followed with a deeper discussion of the pollutants involved and how they are dealt with in the Tier 4 Final diesel design. He noted that the pollutants including NOx, CO, hydrocarbons from aldehyde, air toxics and the greenhouse gases N2O and methane, are all reduced dramatically with Tier 4 Final. He also pointed out that particulate matter (PM) emissions are reduced by 90 percent compared to the previous EPA tier and that natural gas engines are actually much higher in ultra-fine particulate matter, which is much more dangerous to humans.

McDonald proceeded to dispel, one by one, some of the myths regarding Tier 4 Final diesels in terms of effectiveness, costs, maintenance requirements and proven reliability. He pointed out that Tier 4 Final engines have been used for over a decade in Europe and America in trucks, buses and off-highway equipment, with many thousands of applications.
The formal presentations were followed by a lively question-and-answer period. “The wide range of questions from attendees reflected the high level of interest within the facilities engineering and management community in the subject,” Tasker said.

See The Truth about EPA Tier 4 Final Diesel Gensets to learn more about the Ten Myths.