A strategic partnership between Scania and Topsoe has been a mutual learning experience in which each company contributed its knowledge towards a common goal. The latest result of this cooperation is a series of long-haul diesel trucks that exceed even the highest EU emission standards.
“Aren’t they beautiful?”
Senior Manager Fredrik Swartling, head of Emissions Treatment at Scania AB, admires the row of shining Goliaths that greet each guest at the Scania Demo Center in Södertalje, Sweden. He’s looking at the latest models in a very long line of Scania long-haul trucks, each of which is optimized to meet the strictest emission standards – and the most demanding customers. Haldor Topsoe A/S has been a part of Scania’s optimization journey since 2000, when it partnered up with Scania to create new and better emission reduction systems in Scania’s heavy-duty diesel trucks. At the time, the set of EU emission regulations known as Euro III had just been adopted, and even stricter regulations were expected going forward. Scania needed a partner that could help them choose and develop new technologies that could keep up with these requirements. “We made the right choices, thanks to Topsoe, there’s no doubt about that,” Fredrik Swartling says. “Topsoe has played a very special part in our journey.”
New systems to reduce emissions were necessary
The year 2000 was something of a turning point for Scania. In the years leading up to the millennium, the company had been able to comply with the ﬁrst three sets of EU emission regulations (Euro I, Euro II and Euro III) simply by optimizing engine combustion. But everyone in the automotive business was aware that the next set of EU requirements – Euro IV – would be so strict that a new technology would be needed to bring down nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions.
At the time, Scania was working on a technology called exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). The system involves leading part of the engine exhaust back through the motor before ﬁnally releasing it through the tailpipe. This recirculation lowers combustion chamber temperatures, thereby also reducing emissions of NOX, which forms primarily when a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen is subjected to high temperatures.
Each company could learn from the other
Topsoe, however, had another idea – a system called selective catalytic reduction (SCR). An SCR catalyst is placed in the tailpipe of the truck, where a reaction takes place that converts the NOX emissions to harmless nitrogen and water. This type of solution is known as after-treatment.
Many companies were working on after-treatment systems at the turn of the millennium. Scania, however, had been moving towards a system based solely on EGR when it decided to ask Topsoe about SCR and after-treatment technology. What happened next was a mutual learning experience.
“When we started learning about SCR, the competition was ahead of us in this area,” Fredrik Swartling recalls. “We understood that we needed to catch up, and Topsoe taught us how SCR works and about the dynamics of the catalyst. Meanwhile, we taught Topsoe about the automotive industry, its requirements and our engines.” Scania was Topsoe’s ﬁrst partner in the automotive area. And Topsoe became Scania’s ﬁrst after-treatment development partner. Both companies had much to learn from each other.
Pushing towards an optimal balance
Over the years that followed, Scania and Topsoe worked closely together to develop systems to meet the ever-evolving emission requirements of Euro IV, Euro V and ﬁnally Euro VI, which went into force in January, 2014. Throughout this journey, the two companies pushed each other towards a mutual goal: to achieve the best possible balance of performance parameters. “Optimal performance is not about having the best engine or the best after-treatment,” says Fredrik Swartling. “It’s about balancing the performance of the different components. This is the combination that the customer will buy.”
The challenge of Euro VI
In their work together, Scania and Topsoe found that the Euro IV and Euro V emission requirements could be met with either an EGR or SCR system. But when the highly restrictive requirements of Euro VI were introduced, the initial belief was that both systems would be needed in order to achieve the required emission reduction – and this was the solution presented in the ﬁrst Euro VI diesel engines from Scania. But neither Scania nor Topsoe was completely satisﬁed with this result. Using two systems was both costly and complex; a single system would be more robust. Achieving the required emission reduction was impossible with an EGR-only system, however. And to begin with, the same was assumed to be true of an SCR-only system. But as it turned out, this was not the case.
A single system to reduce emissions
As Scania gained a greater understanding of how SCR works, and as Topsoe learned how an engine can be built to support catalyst performance, a better Euro VI solution began to take form. And on 21 March 2013, Scania was able to unveil a long-haul diesel engine that performs optimally with an SCR-only system developed in close cooperation with Topsoe. According to Fredrik Swartling, Scania was the ﬁrst truck manufacturer in the world to adopt this emission reduction strategy.
A vanadium-based solution
The system uses Topsoe’s vanadium-based SCR catalysts to achieve optimal emission reduction without compromising fuel eﬃciency. Since vanadium is known to have emission issues of its own at high temperatures, the system is designed to keep operating temperatures low enough to avoid this problem. This temperature management with delicately controlled operating temperatures adds to the excellent fuel economy and ensures effective regeneration (cleaning) of the particulate ﬁlter at the same time. According to Fredrik Swartling, extensive real-life driving tests have proven that the vanadium catalyst continues to perform optimally for the entire life of a long-haul diesel truck, which must hold up to at least 700,000 kilometers on the road: “The Topsoe catalyst actually performs better after it has been used than when it was new. I’m very conﬁdent about this product.”
Ready for the future
In other words, the SCR-only line of diesel trucks that can now be viewed at Scania headquarters in Södertalje has placed Scania exactly where it wants to be: at the forefront of innovation. In light of the fact that the next set of EU regulations is expected to focus on fuel economy, the fuel efﬁciency of the SCR-only solution is already oriented towards future requirements. “We have to be one step ahead of the game and go even deeper in our understanding of what we can do after Euro VI,” says Fredrik Swartling. “And we hope to go on having a close cooperation with Topsoe.”
Topsoe to work with Scania in Brazil
Topsoe’s new Brazilian automotive catalyst factory is expected to open by mid-2015.
In 2014 a new level of cooperation between Topsoe and Scania began to take form when Topsoe took steps to establish an automotive catalyst factory in Brazil. The facility will strengthen Topsoe’s presence in Latin America while enabling Scania to use locally-produced catalysts at its own Brazilian manufacturing facilities. Within the automotive industry, Brazil represents huge growth opportunities. There are close to 40 million passenger cars, trucks and busses on the Brazilian roads today, and Brazil is by far the largest manufacturer of heavy-duty vehicles in the Latin American region. About 25% of Scania’s total production takes place in Brazil; last year, the company sold some 20,000 vehicles there. Topsoe’s Brazilian factory is expected to be up and running by mid-2015.
Scania CV AB is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of trucks and buses for heavy transport applications. The company employs some 38,600 persons worldwide and has production units in seven countries. Scania’s global headquarters lie poised on the brow of a wooded hillside in Södertalje, Sweden, 30 kilometers southwest of Stockholm. Some 5,800 people are employed here in sales, administration and other tasks. The complex at Södertalje is also home to Scania’s research and development operations, which employs another 3,300 persons. With its focus on continuous improvement and its aim of being the world’s leading provider of sustainable transportation, the Scania proﬁle ﬁts well with the Topsoe aim of making optimal performance possible.