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Did an EPA clean air regulation (Regeneration) cost a man his life?

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posted on Jun, 1 2013 @ 06:26 AM
The Problem

I come to you today with a serious problem that the EPA has created for people everywhere. It's a problem for us all but it's a problem which may only effect a small % in a direct way. The problem, for those it effects, can range from annoying to maddening to downright fatal. It depends on a person's perspective and need in life for the continuous and reliable function of a diesel engine.

The regulations mandated particulate filters into the exhaust system of heavy duty diesel truck engines. These are physical elements in the exhaust stream that, to think of very simply, collect fine matter from the air flow onto a grid. The filters cannot be changed so, must be cleaned occasionally by design. Otherwise, they'd become an obstruction to the exhaust flow and shut down vehicle operation.

I share a fair portion of this from direct personal experience, as the last truck I put about 150,000 miles onto, had the regenerative exhaust filtering system. Here is a Diagram of how it works, roughly.

and what the warning signs inside a truck/heavy vehicle read:

The images above the text are what appear on the dashboard when the filter needs cleaning. The following is an instruction bulletin and page #2 is the focus of interest. It describes Level 1-4 of the warning and shutdown process for exhaust regeneration of a truck.

Level 1 is simply letting you know a cleaning is needed sometime soon. Parked Regen or just drive at 60+ Mph for awhile and it takes care of itself.

Level 2 is getting assertive about it and telling you to park and regen or get to interstate highway speeds and do it soon ...or engine power will be reduced by what I figured was roughly 40%. It makes a responsive truck into something worse than a city bus.

Level 3 is getting rude about matters. Engine power has been reduced at this point and now it's telling you to obey and park for a regen or face the engine shutting OFF. Highway speeds are likely not a solution by this point, in my experience. It's too late in the computer's estimation.

Level 4 is when the Electronic Control Manual has decided you're too big a child to trust with important things like exhaust filters for pollution performance and so, you have a matter of seconds from this stage being indicated before the engine will, literally, shut off like turning the ignition key. It doesn't matter of the truck is being driven at the time and being in motion makes no difference whatsoever.

The 4 Stages of Diesel Regeneration


Now again, I'm not reading this from a book and making assumptions. I lived this in driving an 18 wheeler nationwide. My most memorable experience was in California on I-5. I came out of a spot in San Yasidro to pick up produce in Oxnard. Basically, San Diego to Los Angeles. There is *NO* truck stop between San Diego and Los Angeles, along anything close to the direct route to take between those two places. Nowhere to stop legally or safely. At least not without a local's knowledge of the streets and area, which few if any OTR drivers have.

Anyway, I never got Level 1. It started at Level 2 around Oceanside, which is short of half way. By South Orange County...and Specifically, of ALL places, the Orange Crush (The convergence/interchange a few major freeways at once), it jumped from Level 2, to 3 to FOUR in a matter of a few minutes. So I ended up coasting without power across three lanes of that interchange on the Northbound approach, to sit for 45 minutes on the shoulder of the road while my truck got it's regeneration done. It was about 4am....or it may have gotten people killed. Literally.

^^^ That is how serious and unforgiving the system is. Unnecessary in my view and another stupid idea about of an agency that lives on stupid ideas like it was life giving food, but that's another thread.

The Process

Regeneration, for those who have never had the pleasure of experiencing a vehicle running through a cycle, is a very LOUD process....even in a high grade, sound dampened modern truck. What regeneration does is take the RPM's from a parked Idle level to the level roughly equal to 60 Mph on the interstate....while parked. If you've heard an idling truck suddenly get so loud that it sounds like the driver is putting the fuel pedal to the floor to redline the engine? That's a regeneration. It's a fully automated, locked and computer driven process taking 20-45 minutes.

During this period, the exhaust coming out is hot enough to set grass on fire...which is what the manuals clearly and specifically warn about in things being anywhere near the exhaust tip. Of course, when a computer determines it will kill power to the engine, on it's own timetable? You don't always get to choose where these little things happen.

The Story

Such brings me to the story which caught my eye to begin with. The story of an AMBULANCE that had to force-stop for a regeneration. Remember, the computer doesn't care. There IS NO STOPPING a shut down by level 3 into 4. It is GOING to turn off the engine. The only thing you can do at that point is have the vehicle somewhere it won't kill anyone to have it happen with.

A D.C. ambulance rushing a gunshot victim to a hospital Wednesday had to pull over to avoid engine failure that fire officials blamed on an emissions system required by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Paramedics were performing CPR on Nathanial McRae, 34, when an indicator light signaled that engine failure was imminent. They waited seven minutes for another ambulance to arrive, and McRae was later declared dead at Howard University Hospital. Deputy Fire Chief John A. Donnelly said the ambulance delay did not impede McRae’s care.

In this case? It may actually have been that stopping that was the problem.

A warning light is supposed to flash and give the driver enough time to complete an emergency run before taking a scheduled break. Donnelly said that didn’t happen Wednesday; instead, a more severe indicator came on warning of imminent failure.

Yeah... I can attest to what is SUPPOSED to happen. I can also say, with personal knowledge, it doesn't always happen that way and when the Comp wants to stop, it's gonna stop.

Sometimes the insane of what is being done in industry around the nation just doesn't make the news or convey out to people who aren't a part of the industry like it probably needs to. The overall effect of insane
is what I think the main point is for regulation just becoming so outright absurd as to literally begin with solutions that are WORSE than any imagined problem to start with.

These Filters came after many other engine schemes before it, for the same purpose. More, including Exhaust fluid (Yes...You read that right.. Exhaust fluid. Thanks EPA :shk: ) have come after. The madness never ends.

They say the man in the ambulance didn't die from this, and his circumstances are not sympathetic otherwise..but I still wonder about the delay that should never have happened, by force, by computer.
edit on 1-6-2013 by Wrabbit2000 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 1 2013 @ 06:40 AM
reply to post by Wrabbit2000

I hate to have to be the one to point out that this has already been posted.

Its a shame because you did a DAMN good job of explaining the situation for us regular folks who have no idea how a diesel engine works. S&F for the excellent explanation of this stupid system that is bound to cost people their lives, if it hasn't already in this case.

posted on Jun, 1 2013 @ 06:44 AM
Well..Phooey. Hopefully the thread can stand on it's own merit then, as I did put as much or more original/context material in as the story it was sparked by? Hmm... I totally missed that.

*If not... I can see about retooling a whole different one without mention of the Ambulance at all. That was as much a story piece as a story itself by the end, anyway.
edit on 1-6-2013 by Wrabbit2000 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 1 2013 @ 10:09 AM
I don't have any experience with Diesel engines or their emission control systems, is this something that happens when operating at low speeds and lots of idling? Or is this something that at a preset amount of operation it just shuts down?

posted on Jun, 1 2013 @ 10:15 AM
Wow, fabulous post from an insider. You always learn something everyday by hanging out here.

I can't actually comment on your OP because I'm not familiar at all with it but thank you for the knowledge and now I'm a bit smarter.

Hope your back is ok from all that trucking, I've heard that truckers suffer from back problems.

Star and flag for you sir.

posted on Jun, 1 2013 @ 12:48 PM
reply to post by Wrabbit2000

Keep this topic alive.

The information about the filters is exactly what we need to know.

It sounds like that whole "system" is flawed from the beginning.

I bet there's been examples of computer failures too.

Roadside breakdowns can get expensive and very dangerous.

The EPA needs to be "filtered" I think

posted on Jun, 1 2013 @ 01:01 PM
How many people have conservatives killed from pollution, war, cigarettes and our corrupt, bankrupting medical system?

You do know that smog and pollution kill people every year right?

posted on Jun, 1 2013 @ 01:12 PM
reply to post by KeliOnyx

If you run a lot at highway speeds, the regen occurs automatically and you won't see anything until the filter is full and has to be replaced. It's when you get stuck waiting for a load, somewhere hot as hell (such as Texas), and you have to idle for a long time that the parked regen has to take place.

Since July of last year I've been on trucks with the filter on them, and to date I've had to do one regen, after sitting in Texas for two days trying to get some trailer problems fixed. The temps were well over 100 degrees, so we had to idle the entire time, and it finally caught up with us. We usually run pretty hard, so we don't sit for long, which means that normally we won't have to. But there are going to be times now, like when we're doing a 34 hour reset, when we're going to have to idle which means doing it more.

posted on Jun, 1 2013 @ 01:22 PM

Originally posted by CB328
How many people have conservatives killed from pollution, war, cigarettes and our corrupt, bankrupting medical system?

You do know that smog and pollution kill people every year right?

By comparison, I bet Liberals may have and may be killing as many or more !!

Numbers P-L-E-A-S-E.................

The Marxist-Corporatist complex kills millions.

posted on Jun, 1 2013 @ 03:50 PM

Originally posted by CB328
How many people have conservatives killed from pollution, war, cigarettes and our corrupt, bankrupting medical system?

You do know that smog and pollution kill people every year right?

Well, I have no idea. When you can find a source of statistics that actually sorts by Conservative and Liberal for cause of death, let me know. I'm not remotely as partisan as you seem to be to even think in those terms or along those lines. Wow.... It takes quite a perspective to even suggest that.

posted on Jun, 1 2013 @ 03:56 PM
reply to post by KeliOnyx

The regeneration is something that happens anywhere from a couple times a week to once a day in my experience. It depends entirely on usage and driving patterns for how dirty the filter gets. As Zaphod mentions, it usually happens while driving and is not noticed. I had a couple instances where I came out of highway speeds, totally ignorant of the fact it was in the middle of a Regen (it doesn't always say anything when it's routine at highway speeds) and it created issues for getting off and dropping onto city streets with it still in-process, so to speak.

On a Team Truck where idle time is very low, it's probably a very small issue. On a solo truck or something like an ambulance where engine idle time is hours per day, almost year around? It's a much more pressing issue and far more frequent to come at bad times.

My biggest issue with regeneration was having to do them in the wee hours of the morning in a truck stop...or the truck would shut off. When it's near freezing or 80+ degrees outside, sleep isn't happening without HVAC control ..and that usually meant the main engine idling. So..... Off to regen I went...knowing my truck noise level would go up by a factor of 5 or more and wake the drivers in the trucks to either side of me, AT LEAST. I could hear a truck go into regen from clear across a parking lot at times...and that's across a lot of other idling trucks. It's THAT loud to go to 1200 - 1500 RPM in a parked position. It's crazy.

edit on 1-6-2013 by Wrabbit2000 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 1 2013 @ 04:09 PM
reply to post by Wrabbit2000

On a team truck with a DM that has a God relationship with the planners, the only times you MIGHT have to Regen is when you have to sit waiting to pick up or deliver, or if you have to do a 34 reset. But even with those thrown in, I've done one manual, running a team truck.

posted on Jun, 1 2013 @ 05:19 PM
Hate to tell you guys this but the original design had a propane Regeneration system that would operate any time the truck was parked with the engine off and when the truck was idling.
By adding extra air and propane before the cat unit the temperature increases to Regeneration levels.
this also made the system cleaner as it could be done more often.

Why was it never used.
The EPA banned it to keep trucks off secondary roads and city use that have low speeds and to make trucks freeway/interstates only.

And the Teamsters wanted it as it gave there members more hours when there trucks shut down.
Independent drivers are screwed if trying to make a deadline and there truck shuts down.

posted on Jun, 1 2013 @ 05:45 PM
reply to post by ANNED

Except we're anything but interstate only. I'll average 4-500 miles easily on back roads each trip some weeks. Some of my 1000+ mile troops are well over half on US and county routes going through dozens of small Towns.

posted on Jun, 2 2013 @ 12:50 AM
reply to post by Wrabbit2000

Oh don't get me wrong I understand trucks and drivers, I spent 15 years working a loading dock. It was the this regeneration thing I didn't really understand. Yeah I will agree they need to come up with a better standard, especially for the public service vehicles that obviously aren't spending a great deal of time running at highway speeds. I won't lie I am for regulations but at the same time they have to strike a balance between lowering emissions and being practical.

posted on Jun, 2 2013 @ 09:26 AM
reply to post by KeliOnyx

Oh indeed. I went into more detail than normal because I figured this wasn't something many people knew about. It's fairly new (recent years) and the majority of trucks still don't have it. Since the changes mandated higher costs for equipment/engines, a good % of companies are struggling to squeeze last years out of what they have ..hence..the problem isn't near as widespread as it's bound to be when everything is on the standards.

I agree completely in saying I think pollution and idling needs to be addressed. Heck, with most of my life spent in and out of truck stops full of idling trucks? If exhaust is deadly, how I die isn't in much question...huh? Just a matter of when the big C comes to call on me. I'm hoping the risks are somewhat overrated. lol...

On the other hand...I can't tell you how troubling it was for me, for years, to literally idle a $20,000 engine, burning 1-2 gallons of diesel every hour for 10-12 hours a day ...every single day, most of the year. I actually had a generator (little gas fired one) in the late 90's, strapped to the frame of a truck I drove for OTRX. They let us trick out and mod the trucks line O/O rigs, so many of us did precisely that. It worked.....but a REAL pain in the butt keeping gas supplied when the whole trucking world is diesel.

The latest takes the cake though. Exhaust Fluid. I need to do a whole thread on just that. The bottom line tho is that it's animal pee. They found a way to get rid of one of the largest hazmat issues the United States faces. How to deal with the MILLIONS of gallons of pig pee and other livestock. Well....process it into exhaust fluid, force the trucks to burn it out the stacks while they drive? Problem solved... (cough cough)

posted on Jun, 2 2013 @ 10:18 AM
reply to post by Zaphod58

That goes to the fuel issue. With the high cost of diesel, most larger companies have set up contracts with specific truck stops and use a computer to determine the lowest fuel costs between points. The problem is the computer does not always allow for the higher fuel use when idling through stop lights in a small town, and doesn't care that this route which saved 200 miles also cost five extra hours.

So we have the companies demanding the cost drop, the EPA mandating shutdowns for regen when those routes are on back roads, the customers demanding the delivery be at their dock on an exact time schedule, and the FMCSA demanding drivers not drive too much. That's why I left driving.

That's why a lot of seasoned drivers have left driving. I personally know of several dozen, some with over 30 years experience.

Then new rookie drivers who managed to get through a simplified license test so the school can get paid climb into the seat with another rookie, and tragedy happens. It used to be that rookies were teamed with seasoned drivers for the first several months; now a trainer can have less than a year's driving experience, and there's still not enough trainers to pair every rookie with.

I used to feel safe around trucks. Now I get nervous around them.

What's really sad is that the emissions from diesel engines now are cleaner than the emissions from automobiles. Fuel is

posted on Jun, 5 2013 @ 09:25 PM
reply to post by TheRedneck

Our company runs either the fuel cap, or the DOT rebate program for their ICs (which is a large portion of the fleet). On the cap, they guarantee they will buy x amount of fuel (which could run in the millions of gallons) from x truck stop company, and in return the truck stop gives them a deep discount. Then the IC pays a flat rate of $1.25 a gallon regardless of what the real price is. The rebate gives the IC whatever the DOT rebate is (lately it's been staying right around $0.41 a mile), x miles x mpg. Under the rebate if you can keep your fuel mileage high you can make a lot of money and pay next to nothing for fuel (we had a week where we stayed at 8.8 mpg, and paid $0.03 per gallon after rebate).

As for the students, yeah, they're really bad about that too. They have a two phase program for training. Under phase one, the trainer has to have either a year experience outside the company, or eight months accident free with the company. Those trainers train the brand new drivers, who have to run a minimum of either 14 or 16,000 miles with them.

Under phase two however, they can either team with another phase two student and run the "Q" fleet, or they may get teamed with someone who just finished training and signed a lease for a truck (once you sign the lease you're eligible to be a phase two trainer). The guy I had to ride with for phase two (I hadn't driven in a few years so had to go through the whole thing, from recert at school, to both phases of training) was a total idiot who knew next to nothing (he had been driving a truck for like 9 months total) about HOS, or shifting (he insisted that you shift the truck just like you shift a car).

As scary as it can be out here though, I've always only been able to control what happens on my truck all along, so I just do the best I can, and do my damndest to keep from hurting someone (myself included).

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