A diesel particulate filter (DPF), as explained by our experts at the EuroDiesel Group, is a device designed to remove diesel particulate matter or soot from the exhaust gas of a diesel engine.
According to our experts at EuroDiesel, Wall-flow diesel particulate filters usually remove 85% or more of the soot, and under certain conditions can attain soot removal efficiencies approaching 100%. Some filters are single-use, intended for disposal and replacement once full of accumulated ash. Others are designed to burn off the accumulated particulate either passively through the use of a catalyst or by active means such as a fuel burner which heats the filter to soot combustion temperatures. This is accomplished by engine programming to run (when the filter is full) in a manner that elevates exhaust temperature, in conjunction with an extra fuel injector in the exhaust stream that injects fuel to react with a catalyst element to burn off accumulated soot in the DPF filter, or through other methods. This is known as filter regeneration. Cleaning is also required as part of periodic maintenance, and it must be done carefully to avoid damaging the filter. Failure of fuel injectors or turbochargers resulting in contamination of the filter with raw diesel or engine oil can also necessitate cleaning. The regeneration process occurs at road speeds higher than can generally be attained on city streets; vehicles driven exclusively at low speeds in urban traffic can require periodic trips at higher speeds to clean out the DPF. If the driver ignores the warning light and waits too long to operate the vehicle above 40 miles per hour (64 km/h), the DPF may not regenerate properly, and continued operation past that point may spoil the DPF completely so it must be replaced. Some newer diesel engines, namely those installed in combination vehicles, can also perform what is called a Parked Regeneration, where the engine increases RPM to around 1400 while parked, to increase the temperature of the exhaust.
According to the experts at EuroDiesel, Diesel engines produce a variety of particles during combustion of the fuel/air mix due to incomplete combustion. The composition of the particles varies widely dependent upon engine type, age, and the emissions specification that the engine was designed to meet. Two-stroke diesel engines produce more particulate per unit of power than do four-stroke diesel engines, as they burn the fuel-air mix less completely.
Diesel particulate matter, resulting from the incomplete combustion of diesel fuel, produces soot (black carbon) particles. These particles include tiny nanoparticles—smaller than a thousandth of a millimetre (one micron). Soot and other particles from diesel engines worsen the particulate matter pollution in the air and are harmful to health.
According to a survey conducted by EuroDiesel, new particulate filters can capture from 30% to greater than 95% of the harmful soot. With an optimal diesel particulate filter (DPF), soot emissions may be decreased to 0.001 g/km or less.
The quality of the fuel also influences the formation of these particles. For example, a high sulphur content diesel produces more particles. Lower sulphur fuel produces fewer particles, and allows use of particulate filters. The injection pressure of diesel also influences the formation of fine particles.
DPF and NOx emissions strategies greatly increased fuel consumption in 2007 model year diesel engines, the addition of DEF fluid has reduced fuel consumption, but fuel consumption is still higher than in pre-emissions engines.