Battling engine inefficiency and emissions together

Bruce Mallinson | October 03, 2013

exhaust emissionsOur government is concerned about emissions, and so are most of us in the transportation industry. We are outdoors people, and we spend most of our time outside, whether we’re driving, working on trucks with the garage doors open or enjoying sports.

Fortunately, the same things that reduce emissions also make your truck more efficient and profitable.

Related: Keep air filters flowing freely

I’ve always believed these two things reduce emissions: Allowing more air to flow into the diesel engine for combustion, and allowing burned exhaust gases to pass freely through the exhaust manifold, turbo and performance muffler with as little backpressure as possible.

The benefits of the aforementioned are improved fuel mileage, horsepower and responsiveness, as well as cooler engine temperatures. Those perks remain when a semi-truck is driven properly, meaning the driver pays attention to the turbo boost gauge, pyrometer and tachometer.

It’s all about optimization, or in this case, the pursuit of perfection on the part of the driver and his or her driving habits. Driving between 58 and 62 mph also improves fuel economy along with decreasing emissions.

Somehow at these speeds, we still get where we are going. Rarely does driving faster make a big difference in time saved, but it always costs more in fuel. 

-Bruce Mallinson is the owner of Pittsburgh Power, an engine performance shop in Saxonburg, Pa. 

  • Shannon Bushall

    keep feeding the BS

  • Jerry

    Technically not supported by the facts; The emissions devices like the (EGR) exhaust gas recirculation valve added to engines mfg after 1998, will increase the amount of soot inside the engine oil.

    (EGR valves also increase the engine temperature. Also, Turbos, air after it has been heated due to boosting the air that is produced by the turbo before sending the air into the engine. Charge Air Coolers, As the air is cooled, it becomes denser, and denser air makes for better combustion, more power Charge air coolers help to decrease the air temperatures where a loss of power is observed, when all things being equal.)

    Soot, if not removed from the oil will increase the amount of friction, where the end game is increased wear. Samples: not changing the oil filters, lengthening the oil change intervals, both of those will increase the amount of soot and that increases the amount of Sulphur Trioxide compounds being released from the crank case ventilation pipe. (this is not exhaust gas, its crank case gas). One problem with the formation of Sulphur Trioxide compounds is the TurboChargers O rings will leak sooner, to include engine seals. Engine Oil has been reformulated since 1998 to assist with the holding of Soot in suspension, where to change the oil or filters will decrease the amount of soot. One Problem: soot comes in different sizes. Soot that is 4 microns in size or less causes 77% of the wear inside the engine. For the most part, OEM filters for all the mfg. do not filter at this size. Sooo, being vigilant at replacing your OEM filters is important. Also, Bypass filtration seems like a natural evolution to focusing and decreasing the soot.
    End point: to reduce soot is to reduce engine emissions, and, its soot and crank case gas that increases engine wear.

  • Jerry

    Where the Writer got it wrong: (in a nut shell)
    Increased Engine operating Temperatures, Increased Soot held by Oil, increases in Crank Case Gases, these can increase the maintenance costs for the Owner Operator, by seals going bad & increasing the filters & oil being changed, (air, oil). Engine electronics require increased servicing, i.e. the cleaning of contact points beyond the battery terminal connections for all the power & ground electronic control devices is required..yearly. Sensors for the transmissions require replacing. (the mechanics haven’t caught up yet…but their learning). To remove focusing on these issues, is to increase the operating costs to Owner Operators.
    Owner Operators conditioned by the older emission engines will have some unneeded increased operating costs as everyone relearns good P.M. procedures…the newer engines can have decreased operating costs, But only when using newer p.m. techniques. To use old P.M. techniques will increase operating costs.
    Bruce, as a Shop owner, what problems in P.M. servicing have you observed by Owner Operators that could of been avoided between the new vs. older emission engines?

  • sketer

    im not sure where they come up with this but my cummins gets its best fuel millage and power at 73 mph

  • Indie Trucker

    Jerry, while what you are saying makes some sense… I see nothing of context to what Bruce is talking about in the article to your argument. How does the writer get it wrong by recommending more efficient combustion and removal of exhaust from the engine? I really don’t know what you are disagreeing with in this article.

  • MCA Road Assistance

    “Fortunately, the same things that reduce emissions also make your truck more efficient and profitable.”

    What a BS.
    Working for the last 10 years in a major BC truck dealership in the service department and its funny I have never heard any of my customers say they get better fuel economy or more profit! How could they, the rig is always in the shop for some kind of emissions issue. No matter if you have warranty or not: the downtime is killing my customers!!

  • jon

    trying to drum up more business it would seem under guise of helping the government.

    EGR is akin to putting a garden hose up your butt and then trying to breath while running a marathon.

  • Jerry

    A reply:

    Author States: Fortunately, the same things that reduce emissions also make your truck more efficient and profitable

    My reply: There are 2 answers here, the author is citing a standard factory produced OEM truck. In short these trucks are superior too Tractors built 20 years ago. The new trucks will do everything better when focusing on specific truck specifications and applications Vs. older style truck that has a same specification & application…OEM built. However with all this new emphasis, comes critical thinking and this is where OEM and I, stand apart. Aftermarket add on devices to increase overall profitability and trucks length of life: Areas of critical focus: 1), Bypass Oil (pre-filter filter @ sub micron level) filtration, 2), Bypass Fuel (pre-filter filter @ sub micron level) Filtration.3), Pre-air filter filters to separate dust. 4) the usage of Composite leaf springs vs. steel. 5), The usage of Nitrogen gas shocks vs. hydraulic (OEM). 6), the usage of anti-friction bearings & gears: focused @ a), wheel bearings, b),differentials, c), carrier bearings, d), u-joints. 7), the use of Calcium Sulphonate (anti-friction) based grease vs. standard (OEM)heavy duty Red Grease. (just replace one carrier bearing with its associated wrecker fee and this grease has met its return on investment.

    Author States: The benefits of the aforementioned are…cooler engine temperatures.

    My Reply: These engines are running hotter vs. pre 1998 engines: Any item & every item sitting on the trucks insulated floor becomes a thermal heater. Air pressure expands when heated, contracts when cooled, this translates to less cubic feet of oxygen in side the cab. After market device, Cab Pressurization System to better filter the cabin air pressure is required. The OEM HVAC/Heater during a winter storm when the wind is blowing heavy driving on the interstate in Eastern Colorado, the OEM installed windowd defrosters are not strong enuff to compete to the outside wind speed/temperatures. I have two large front windows on my 2006 Freightliner Columbia CL-120 semi truck 30″ x 24″ (approx.) and I feel stupid that the viewing area is reduced to a small 10″ hole. and there aint a damn working problem with the truck. OEM parts & I need to focus on Safety & Security.

    My Interpretations on the overall article: The author is not focused on how to make the truck more profitable once your working a newer truck and how to keep that same truck in focus combating wear before it occurs. Profit is made by focusing on the life cycle of the truck. As an Owner Operator, my question is why do I need to sell my truck and buy a new truck, show me how to win @ the Trucking Profession by keeping this truck in focus.

  • jerry

    Writer, he characterized his words too much. Where no working models exist that may enable the Owner Operator to focus on and increase the length of life of his the truck or truck part. eh, perhaps im being too critical…rarely do I lift my head up and look at the world, often times when I do, I get annoyed by what others state by them keeping their words too abridged for a useful basis for self growth…I regress returning to work…getting more annoyed by my lack of time that I can dedicate to a problem…researching on better built non-OEM parts that work to increase my trucks useful life by decreasing my overall operational costs.

  • Hillbilly

    With all due respect to Bruce, the modern creation of emissions systems is not about the free flow of exhaust gasses its about the clogging effect of DPFs and the extra
    expense of DEF and the systems that weren’t ready for prime time. If anything it has made trucks less reliable and more expensive to run. Owner Ops are avoiding emissioned trucks whenever possible and driving up the cost of old trucks {pre-emmisioned} and making Bruces’ business $ on retro-fits power products.

  • old school

    just go to any dealer shop and count the number of trucks in the shop you will find that 75% of the trucks in there are new trucks with engine troubles and out of those most had to be towed in so where are the savings paying for tow, down time in the shop or very pissed off customers waiting for their delivery kiss repeat business good bye. p.s. of the 25% old trucks in the shop most of them are in for repairs not related to the engine but for parts which have to be replaced after long faith full service for which one is prepared in advance and can plan the down time.

  • Spence

    I have an ’86 Pete 359 with a Cat 3406b and a 13 speed. It might not be the fastest and most powerful truck on the road but it runs and gets me where I need to go and does the job, plus it’s probably in better shape than a lot of the trucks that are 20 years newer. From what I’ve read a lot of trucks that have been retrofitted with emission control devices ran worse and got worse fuel mileage, not to mention that it’s expensive to buy these retrofits. I can’t see where the savings are. I’m not against wanting to make engines more efficient and run cleaner, but if they are unreliable and don’t run you haven’t got anything. I like my old Peterbilt and plan to keep it along with my ’65 Ford F100 pickup and there ain’t no politically correct environmentalist wacko gonna tell me that I can’t drive either one !!!

  • Spence

    Well said. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.