Jul 03, 2023

How air quality impacts diesel engine air filtration

As diesel engine aftertreatment systems became more and more efficient the adage in the trucking industry was that the air coming out of the tailpipe was cleaner than the air going into the engine. As air quality worsens across the globe that adage is quickly becoming a stark truism. Just as you feel it when you breathe in air with a poor air quality index, your engine also feels it.

Diesel engine and cabin air filters are designed to remove harmful dust particles and particulates in the air and they have to work even harder as more dust, debris and soot fill the air. Reports over the past summer put particulates at 150 micrograms per meter cubed, which is more than 10 times what the annual average should be and about four times higher than what you’re supposed to have on a 24-hour average, according to Peter DeCarlo, an associate professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, Johns Hopkins University.

While it’s true that, generally, filtration media becomes more efficient over time as it accumulates particles, in environments with poor air quality, dust particles can obstruct some of the microscopic opening in the filter media, creating a “dust cake” that can cause it to quickly reach a point where it hinders the airflow to the engine.

Your first line of air filtration efficient defense is going to be your maintenance practices.This includes storing replacement filters in clean, dry areas; ensuring all components of the air filtration system are in good condition; following manufacturer recommendations for filter replacement; and handling filters with care to prevent contamination.

It’s also crucial not to overlook your in-line air filters. It’s a safety critical component that can potentially be impacted by worsening air quality. Delays in brake actuation, commonly resulting from a clogged filter, can be a serious safety concern. Regular inspection, as guided by truck service information resources, can preemptively address such issues.

The right technology can be the air filter ace up your sleeve–alerting you to a potential service need well before it becomes a catastrophic engine issue. Mann+Hummel’s Senzit, for example, introduced as a solution for monitoring filter health, offers real-time monitoring of air filter status for each piece of equipment. This can help reduce truck downtime, which can translate to productive equipment ROI. With built-in GPS technology, not only can users track equipment and fleet utilization, but they also have the advantage of monitoring operational engine hours and even aiding in theft recovery situations.

When it’s time to replace an air filter, it’s important to keep how its operating environment is changing in mind. In the case of poor air quality, it’s vital to consider the sealing gasket, media or paper quality, precise embossed pleats, and structural design.Wix Filters noted that only 8 oz. of dirt can destroy a diesel engine, underlining the importance of maximizing the life of the air filter for optimal engine protection.

Click here to learn more about Wix Filters’s lineup of heavy-duty truck air filters.

Filtration monitoring technologyFinding the right replacement air filter