DEF Tank Heaters: Storage and Beyond

DEF Tank Heaters: Storage and Beyond

DEF tank heaters are an essential tool for those who operate with and depend on DEF.  Whether you are using DEF, transporting it, storing it, or supplying it for others, DEF requires attention and awareness. 

DEF is very easy to use and is a harmless substance–it is non-flammable and non-explosive.. It is not a fuel, nor a fuel additive but a high purity urea (urea is a compound of nitrogen that turns to ammonia when heated. It is used in a variety of industries, including as a fertilizer in agriculture) solution that must be used in a dedicated tank on the vehicle. Refill this tank when required. It is classified as a transportable fluid with minimal risk. If you ever spill DEF on your hands, simply wash them thoroughly with water.

DEF tank heatersFacts about DEF

  • DEF is a non hazardous, easy to use operating fluid
  • If kept as per the storage guidelines, DEF has a shelf life of up to one year
  • Containers should have seals intact
  • DEF containers should be kept in clean conditions

No foreign matter, in solid or liquid form should be added to the containers.  When topping off the tank, never use other equipment such as funnels, jugs or diesel equipment to refill your vehicle.  DEF containers usually contain nozzles to help dispense easily.

def tank heaters

Protecting your DEF in storage is very important; however, protecting your DEF from freezing temperatures once it’s in the truck tank becomes equally important. The transportation and commercial trucking industries know just how frustrating it is when DEF freezes in the truck tank.

Innovative truck manufacturers solved the freezing problem by running coolant system through the DEF tank. This works as long as the truck is running. This type of DEF heating solution only works when the engine is running. After parking a truck overnight in cold weather, DEF could freeze up entirely. It could also take as much as thirty minutes to several hours of idling to thaw. Running the truck with frozen DEF will likely trip the sensors too, indicating a false reading within the truck computer and adversely affecting its performance.

Does DEF Freeze?

The freezing point of DEF is 12°F/-11°C. When driving in low temperatures,  leave some room in the DEF tank.  When water freezes it expands by about 7%.  A full tank in freezing weather could result in a cracked tank.  When DEF freezes and then thaws there is no degradation of the product.

Troubleshooting Frozen DEF

  • Frozen DEF will not inhibit normal vehicle start-up or operation. Most systems have a built-in DEF tank heater that will thaw the fluid during normal vehicle operation. If your vehicle’s SCR has a built-in DEF tank heater, turn the vehicle on to initiate the thawing process.
  • In cold weather, when shutting down the vehicle, wait 60 seconds before turning off the battery to allow the fluid to drain back out of the hoses and into the DEF tank.
  • No anti-gelling additive or freeze point improver should ever be added to the DEF, as they will impede performance and may damage SCR system components.
  • Your vehicle may display an error code when it detects that the DEF is frozen. Check the owner’s manual to determine operational safety of you particular vehicle while the DEF is frozen.

Will Additives/Antifreeze Prevent DEF from Freezing?

Do not add antifreeze to DEF.  It is not recommended to add any sort of additive to DEF to prevent freezing. The use of contaminated or non-manufacturer approved DEF may result in costly system repairs.  DEF is a mixture of 67.5% de-ionized water and 32.5% purified urea. This ratio is critical because it provides the lowest possible freeze point for the fluid.

DEF Freeze Protection

Storing your truck in a heated or insulated garage during cold periods can help prevent your DEF from freezing. Likewise, an insulated tote blanket can help prevent freezing.  Keep an eye on the DEF gauge the same way you watch your fuel gauge. Equipment with low DEF levels will be limited to lower operating speeds until the fluid is replenished.

DEF Tank Heaters for your Truck

Instead of taking a chance with winter, and losing valuable time as a result, trucking companies can turn to Powerblanket for an innovative solution to this dilemma. Powerblanket has developed an insulated heating blanket designed to fit the DEF tanks installed in commercial trucks. These DEF tank heaters offer both insulation and regulated heat that will keep your DEF at the ideal temperature. The Powerblanket DEF tank heater is certified to national and international safety standards and is easy to install, remove, and reinstall.

With options for either AC or DC voltage and the choice of a ten or fifteen-foot cord, our DEF tank heaters are easy to apply on your truck and plug in to keep your DEF warm when the engine isn’t running. So put the worry of frozen DEF aside this winter, and reach out to us for your DEF tank heaters today.

Click here for DEF agriculture heating solutions.

Learn More About DEF Totes


DEF Freezing and DEF in Cold Weather

The Polar Vortex is sliding down over the country.  Have you taken precautions to prevent DEF freezing in the increasingly cold temperatures swiftly approaching?  We have tips and guidelines to help you with DEF in cold weather.

Understanding DEF and SCR

Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) is a non-hazardous solution, which is 32.5% urea and 67.5% deionized water. DEF is sprayed into the exhaust stream of diesel vehicles to break down dangerous NOx emissions into harmless nitrogen and water. NOx is an element in exhaust that has been blamed for acid rain, smog and raising the overall greenhouse gas levels of the planet.  DEF is not a fuel additive and never comes into contact with diesel. It is stored in a separate tank, typically with a blue filler cap. This system is called Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR).  SCR and DEF have been used for decades in other commercial and agricultural applications.

Storing DEF

DEF should be stored in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area. The ideal storage temperature for DEF is between 15ºF and 65ºF (-9ºC and 18ºC). It should not be exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time as the urea will decompose. When possible, DEF packages and bulk storage should be kept indoors in temperature-controlled environments.  Use the right container. DEF is mildly corrosive, and should be stored in containers of HDPE plastic or stainless steel. 

DEF Freezing Protection guide graphic

DEF Expires

Check the expiration. The storage life of DEF varies. The urea is vulnerable to degradation from sunlight and higher temperatures. In favorable storage conditions (proper container, away from direct sunlight, temperatures between 15 and 65°F), DEF can maintain its qualities for about 12 months. 

Be Good to DEF

Handle it like fuel. Per EPA guidelines, vehicles using DEF must include sensors to continually analyze the quality of the DEF being consumed. These sensors will trigger a fault code whenever an imbalance is detected. Most commonly, this results from a higher percentage of water as a result of foreign matter, condensation or rainwater in the DEF storage container or during transfer.  The quality and integrity of DEF must be maintained for proper machine operation. It must be protected against evaporation and temperature extremes, and kept free of contaminants. Doing so could change DEF density, impacting its performance.

At what temperature does DEF freeze?

DEF Freezing

DEF, because of the urea, doesn’t have the freezing point of water. The urea mixture has a much lower freezing point of 12°F/-11°C. This solution doesn’t break into just urea and just water, either. The solution freezes at the same rate, and also thaws at the same rate. This means that at no point does the DEF freezing cause the solution to become over concentrated or diluted. DEF will begin to slush and then freeze.  There is no harm to the product which means that the urea solution is still safe to use if it has been frozen.

DEF Freezing and Expansion

Though it is safe to use again once thawed, expansion from freezing could cause problems.  Since DEF is a mixture of deionized water and urea, it reacts somewhat like water in that it does expand when frozen. DEF freezing usually causes about a 7% expansion. It is important to note that DEF freezing is usually taken into account when creating the packaging and tanks that are supposed to hold DEF. DEF packaging and tanks allow for expansion. However, one must be aware of the expansion of DEF when filling.  When storing equipment overnight or longer in temperatures that could result in DEF freezing, it is important to make sure the DEF tank on the equipment is not completely full or that it has an appropriate heat source. This will allow for expansion and help prevent cracking of the storage reservoir.

How to Prevent DEF Freezing?

DEF freezing was taken into account by the OEMs prior to creating the Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) systems. Therefore, the SCR systems are designed to provide heating for the DEF tank and supply lines; however, if the vehicle is shut down and exposed to freezing temperatures, then it is likely that the DEF will freeze. Diesel owners do not need to worry about DEF interfering with their vehicle, however. If DEF freezes when the vehicle is shutdown, startup and normal operation of the vehicle will not be inhibited. In most cases, the SCR heating system will quickly thaw the DEF in order to return it to liquid form and resume normal operation.

NEED TO PROTECT YOUR DEF FROM FREEZING? GIVE US A CALL AND TALK TO A POWERBLANKET HEATING EXPERT TODAY. 888-316-6324, OR VISIT OUR DEF STORAGE HEATER PAGE HERE.

Can Anything Be Added to Prevent DEF Freezing?

Many want to know if anti-gelling or freeze-point-improver can be added to the DEF mixture to prevent freezing. DO NOT put additives into the urea solution because DEF must remain pure. The quality of DEF is extremely important for proper performance. Adding any additives would damage its ability to perform correctly and could even result in damages to the SCR system. No additives are approved for DEF at this time.

DEF Tote Heaters from Powerblanket

Powerblanket has a solution for DEF freeze prevention:  Powerblanket DEF Tote Heaters maintain optimal heating conditions for temperature sensitive materials.  Powerblanket DEF Tote Heaters are temperature specific for the Diesel Exhaust Fluid to protect from freezing and maintain optimal temperatures.

DEF FreezingHere’s How

  • Distribute heat evenly around the tote
  • Fully enclose and heat the tote and pump housing unit
  • Designed to be durable and weather resistant
  • Easy access to fill with a removable top
  • Simple plug and play operation, temperature is automatically regulated
  • Safely heat and protect a wide variety of chemicals and materials
  • 330 and 275  gallon versions feature an easy to access flap to the pump
  • Heated wraps for customized DEF bulk storage tanks available upon request
  • Include a frame to easily enclose and heat pump and hose

 

Learn More About DEF Totes

Get The DEF Tote Spec Sheet

Keep Propane Tanks from Freezing with a Propane Tank Heater

If you rely on propane for year-round operations, then you already know what a headache winter weather can be. If you have a cold propane tank as a result of dropping temperatures, you’re going to lose a lot of efficiency. Thankfully, there’s a simple solution to keeping your propane tank from freezing, and the solution is something some refer to as a propane tank blanket.

 

thousand gallon propane tank

Propane Performs Best Under Heat

Did you know that propane can freeze up completely if the ambient temperature drops below -44° F? Granted, -44° F is pretty darn cold, but in terms of gases, it’s a rather high freezing point. As cold as this temperature is in general terms, there are regions North America that experience extremes within this range and even lower, and if you operate a propane tank under these conditions without freeze protection, catastrophe is inevitable.

Worst-case scenario aside, propane tank efficiency will fall substantially as the temperature drops, even if it never plummets as low as -44° F. As the temperature drops, so does the pressure in your propane tank, and the pressure in your propane tank coincides with the volume of propane you have to work with. As pressure drops, not only will the volume of your propane deplete, but your extraction rate (how quickly and smoothly you can extract propane from the tank) will suffer as well. If you don’t have a heating source to assist in the pressure maintenance of your tank, then you’re going to have to keep it as full as possible in order to keep it working, even if temperatures are mildly cold.

 

Keep Propane Tanks from Freezing with a Propane Tank Heater

More On Propane Extraction or Pressure Rate

Cold weather is the most common dilemma facing propane tank failure, but it isn’t the only one. Another cause of propane tank freezing has to do with the rate of extraction, or the pressure rate. If you’re drawing out a substantial amount of propane from your tank in a short amount of time, then you could cause the tank to freeze and ice up. This is assuming, of course, that you don’t have a heat source to assist with the problem.

Filling your propane tank more often isn’t going to solve a problem like this. And to be quite frank, it’s only a Band-Aid for cold weather dilemmas as well. No, the only real solution to both problems mentioned here is to keep your tank at the ideal temperature, regardless of outside forces. The safest, most efficient way to do this is to employ an external heating system that both insulates your tank and adds regulated and controlled heat to the exterior service.

In the case of heating propane, SAFETY IS MOST IMPORTANT. Propane, as we’re sure you know, is a highly flammable gas, so using any old make-shift solution isn’t safe. On the other hand, using a heating solution design specifically for the process, one that is certified and pronounced safe by reputable, third-party testing laboratories is the only way to go. With that said, let us introduce you to the Powerblanket® Propane Tank Heater.

 

 

Powerblanket® Propane Tank Heater

Powerblanket has the best propane tank heating solution on the market. And we aren’t just saying that because we are Powerblanket. No, we’re saying it because we know of no other company that puts more thought, time, and testing into such a product offering.  Our heating blankets will help maintain pressure and efficiency on just about any size tank.

What’s more, if your tank isn’t the common propane unit, well, that’s no problem. Our custom approach to heating solutions can tailor a blanket to fit your specific dimensions and needs. In addition to this, and most importantly, our product is safe! All Powerblanket heating blankets are certified with ETL certification to the highest standards of safety and efficiency.

Keep Propane Tanks from Freezing

Benefits of Powerblanket Propane Tank Heaters:

  • Increase performance and efficiency of propane tanks
  • Provide even heat distribution
  • Save money by optimizing gas and material usage
  • Safety certified by UL/CSA/CE
  • Eliminates unnecessary cylinder refills in cold weather

 

OR

Learn more about how to care for your propane tanks with our complete propane guide:

Propane Tank Guide