Tips for Handling DEF in Cold Weather

Diesel Exhaust Fluid, commonly referred to as DEF, is regularly used in vehicles that run on diesel. This fluid is required while driving in any weather condition, but it can become frozen when improperly stored. Find out how to safely store, handle, and deliver DEF to your commercial trucks with professional products from Blue Network.

How Cold Weather Affects Diesel Exhaust Fluid

Diesel fuel may gel when exposed to cold temperatures, but DEF can freeze solid. Even DEF is prone to freezing, so it’s important to understand what this does to your DEF system (where DEF is stored and distributed) and how you can keep it safely stored. Frozen DEF has the ability to completely stall your trucking operation in the winter, so be sure your fluid is warm and ready to pump year-round.

Does DEF Fluid Freeze?

The typical DEF freezing point is -11 degrees Celsius. This is lower than the freezing point of water because of the urea in the fluid. Unlike certain mixtures and solutions, the water in DEF doesn’t separate as it freezes. This means that DEF can be thawed with no effect on its fuel quality, so the freeze/thaw process and small amounts of frozen DEF in a large container won’t affect the concentration or performance of the fluid,because DEF can maintain its physical and chemical properties, when subjected to repeated cycles of freezing and thawing.

Why does it matter whether DEF freezes or not? Frozen DEF can affect your ability to pump it into your truck’s tank system. It can also expand andcrack or damage holding tanks on your truck or property.

Lack of Flow Due to Frozen DEF

If you turn on your DEF pump or pick up a container to pour it into your truck’s DEF tank, the last thing you want to deal with is a block of ice. Your truck will eventually warm up and melt any DEF currently in the truck-mounted reservoir, but you won’t be able to fill that reservoir up for a long haul if your stored DEF is frozen solid.

This prevents you from moving DEF from a container to your truck. Attempting to heat the fluid quickly can cause it to become too hot and compromise the urea . You can’t run your trucks without DEF due to emissions concerns, so this situation can prevent you from driving commercial diesel vehicles in cold weather without proper storage solutions.

Damaged Containers Due to Expansion

Containers full of DEF without a proper heating system can freeze solid and expand dangerously. DEF can expand by up to seven percent of its liquid volume, so you need to plan on keeping the fluid in a liquid state or leave room for expansion in a tank to avoid it from cracking.

While exploring the best tank for storage, be sure you use stainless steel or HDPE plastic. These materials can help reduce the risk of damage due to expansion, but they also avoid any damage due to the corrosive nature of DEF.

A cracked container can be a costly issue. Not only does this mean you’ll need to invest in a new container, but it could also expose your DEF to direct sunlight or contaminants. This can lead to decomposed urea or contaminated fluid, both of which can make it unusable in your SCR system. Preventing a cracked container is one of the most important steps in safe DEF handling in cold weather.

How to Handle DEF in Cold Weather

Now that you understand some of the dangers related to improper DEF storage in Canada, it’s time to find solutions. At Blue Network, we work with you to create dependable DEF storage and delivery solutions to keep your fleet moving forward.

Choose a Durable Container

Our DEF equipment line can help you properly store DEF to avoid the irritating or dangerous effects of freezing temperatures. Indoor or underground tanks are the most common solution, as these tanks are heated through other sources and remain at a relatively stable temperature.

Another solution is to choose a tank with a built-in heating feature. Work with our team to explore your container options to prevent freezing in the first place.

Don’t Use Additives

Other liquids are kept from freezing with additives. It may seem common sense to add an anti-gel or antifreeze product to a DEF holding tank system. Don’t attempt to introduce any additional products to your DEF, either in a holding tank or in your DEF system.

Don’t Worry About Thawing Frozen DEF in Cold Weather

You don’t need to worry about your DEF if it’s already frozen. If you avoid direct sunlight exposure, you can safely pump it into your commercial truck once it has thawed.

Avoid Direct Sunlight Exposure

Freezing temperatures may not affect the quality of DEF, but direct sunlight exposure can. Don’t store DEF in direct sunlight, even if frozen. Our storage tank solutions safely protect your product from the effects of sunlight. If stored in direct sunlight, the urea will begin to decompose and become ineffective.

Keep Your Fleet Moving with Blue Network Solutions

At Blue Network, we’re committed to keeping your fleet moving. Don’t let frozen DEF put a halt to your transportation needs. Now that you know how to prevent issues with your DEF and diesel in cold weather, work with our team! . We also provide the proper storage equipment to prevent freezing issues in the winter.

Whether you’re operating a single truck or a large fleet of diesel trucks, create a distribution schedule that fits your budget and supply needs with our team and contact us today.

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