If you drive a diesel-consuming automobile, eventually you’ll get to know what DEF is all about.
Diesel vehicles give off more smoke, which pollutes the atmosphere because of incomplete combustion and excessive nitrogen emission, but the good news is that DEF can help reduce this air pollution.
So, let’s review what DEF entails, discover whether DEF is flammable, as well as discuss other notable facts.
What Is DEF?
DEF or diesel exhaust fluid is a special additive for diesel fuel that minimizes the emission of nitrogen oxide in the exhaust system of a diesel engine. Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) is a mixture of urea and water which you can also find as AdBlue or AUS 32.
The chemical composition of diesel exhaust fluid is 32.5% urea and 67.5% deionized or demineralized water. Hence, DEF is highly rich in water.
Urea (a product of urine waste), which is one of the major components in DEF, is widely used in some industries for the production of ammonia. And almost all DEF products are regulated by the American Petroleum Institute.
However, note that DEF does not work for all brands of diesel automobiles. So before adding diesel exhaust fluid to an engine, ensure the engine is compatible with the fluid.
So here, some questions set in, is DEF putting your car at a fire risk or not? And better still, is spilled DEF toxic just like spilled transmission fluid? Let’s find out.
Is DEF Flammable?
Unlike some automobile additives, diesel exhaust fluid is not flammable under normal conditions. This is primarily because DEF contains more water than any other constituents, DEF is typically a solution of urea in water.
Thus, the amount of water in DEF will easily quench any fire instigated in the fluid. Likewise, if you mix some diesel fuel with DEF, a fire outbreak will not occur. Instead, DEF will act as a catalyst to reduce the evolution of the nitric oxide gas.
Can DEF Explode?
Since DEF does not burn, it is not likely to explode. However, if stored in bottles or canisters and heated to a relatively high temperature, DEF can pose an explosion hazard.
DEF might not end up triggering an explosion. This is because, for DEF to explode in a tightly covered bottle, the bottle must first undergo melting because of the high temperature it is subjected to.
Is DEF A Hazardous Substance?
If handled properly, DEF is a safe chemical to use, but that does not mean it is entirely free of dangers. Urea (an active constituent of DEF) has existed in the world of chemicals since 1828.
Urea was produced when a German Chemist—Friedrich Wohler, treated silver cyanide with ammonium chloride. A Dutch Chemist named Herman Boerhaave was the first to discover urea as a major component of urine in 1727.
Urea is used in the agricultural industries as fertilizers and as an ingredient in fuel cells, explosives, skin creams, plastics, hair removers, etc in the chemical industry. All these uses of urea describe it as a harmless substance to humans, hence, DEF should be harm-free.
However, the urea in DEF reacts with some metals (e.g., aluminum) causing them to corrode. These kinds of metals are not suitable as containers for carrying DEF. Therefore, you need to be cautious when choosing a transport container for DEF.
You can store and transport diesel exhaust fluid in containers like fiberglass, plastic, steel, etc. These highlighted containers do not corrode and do not react with urea. The containers should be stored in a cool, dry place to ensure maximum safety.
What Is The Freezing Point Of DEF?
Diesel exhaust fluid has lower freezing when compared to water. A typical DEF solution will freeze at 12°F. And unlike some solutions, the water in DEF freezes together with the DEF solution.
When a solution of DEF contains both water and urea (67.5% and 32.5% respectively), the two constituents crystallize and freeze at the same time. Frozen diesel exhaust fluid expands faster by 6.5% or 7% by volume.
Is DEF Toxic To Skin?
DEF is not harsh on the skin since it is a primary ingredient in some makeup and cosmetics. But if you spill some DEF on your skin, it can trigger a mild irritation on your skin because of the urea in it.
Wash off DEF spills on your skin instantly, the same way you will treat acid spills. You can easily rinse off DEF spills on your skin with running water.
Is DEF Made From Urine?
That urea (a constituent of DEF) is the major chemical product in urine does not mean you can prepare DEF from urine. No, it doesn’t work that way.
Industrially, urea is synthesized by gathering millions of cats, collecting their urine, and extracting the urea present in the urine. Thereafter, the synthesized urea is combined with water and other additives to manufacture DEF.
Uses Of DEF.
Diesel exhaust fluid has a lot of benefits in the automobile industry (diesel engines, to be precise). At a concentration of about 2% to 6% by volume depending on the diesel engine, diesel exhaust fluid is combined with diesel fuel.
When DEF is added along with diesel fuel in a diesel engine, the production of nitric oxide (NOx) is minimized. Owing to this, burning diesel fuel gives off harmless nitrogen gas.
Moreso, nitric oxide (NOx) is one gas responsible for acid rain. If the production of this gas is not effectively controlled, acids will accumulate in the atmosphere, resulting in acid rain. And because of this, the use of DEF is considered environmentally friendly.
Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) is not a flammable substance, however, it can be hazardous. This article explains all you need to know about DEF, its uses, and other noteworthy facts.
Lastly, you can mix several brands of DEF for a diesel engine, provided they are standard brands. Here is a safety data sheet for diesel exhaust fluid that can provide answers to other questions.