Published on February 26th, 2016 | by Jo Borrás


New Lawsuit Claims Mercedes Diesel Emissions Are 65X The EPA Limit

February 26th, 2016 by  

Originally published on Gas2.

A new lawsuit brought against Mercedes-Benz states that the company’s existing diesel engines pollute up to 65x (sixty-five times) more than the legal amount when it’s cold out. The claim is that when the temperature drops below 50 degrees fahrenheit the nitrogen oxide reduction system simply turns off. If that’s true, it could be bad news for Mercedes-Benz.

mb-dieselMercedes, for its parts, uses a number of technologies to control diesel emissions and markets them under the “BlueTEC” banner. One of those technologies is called “AdBlue”, and that’s what MB uses to keep nitrous oxide emissions- the ones that have gotten Volkswagen in so much recent trouble– to a minimum.

Mercedes describes the AdBlue process, in its own words, below:

BlueTEC brings together an array of advanced technologies to create the world’s cleanest diesel automobiles. Advanced and highly precise components, from high-pressure fuel injection to a variable-vane turbo, create more complete and powerful combustion. But the breakthrough is an innovative liquid solution called AdBlue. When injected into the exhaust, AdBlue converts the nitrogen oxide emissions into harmless nitrogen and oxygen. And BlueTEC vehicles can use both ultralow-sulfur fuels (now the standard nationwide) or even B5 Biodiesel.

Mercedes-Benz Genuine AdBlue is composed of urea and de-ionised water. It is injected into the exhaust gasses of selected diesel engines as a post combustion process. Mercedes-Benz vehicles using AdBlue® technology are identified with the ‘BlueTEC’ symbol. AdBlue’s® purpose is to reduce the percentage of harmful NOx (Nitrogen Oxide) found in the vehicle’s emissions. With BlueTEC technology, Mercedes-Benz has been able to heavily reduce exhaust gas emissions while at the same time maintaining the performance of diesel engines in terms of power and torque output.

How bad would it emissions get if the system does cut off? According to the lawsuit- filed by the same firm that’s currently suing GM for ignition switch failures- it’s catastrophically bad, with emissions spiking to more than 65x the EPA allows. “Real world testing,” says the suit, “has recently revealed that these vehicles emit dangerous oxides of nitrogen (NOx) at a level more than 65 times higher than the United States Environmental Protection Agency permits. The Mercedes’ ‘Clean Diesel’ turns out to be far from ‘clean’.”

As I write this, there has been no official response from Mercedes-Benz. That said, the company recently announced an all-new lineup of cleaner, more efficient diesel engines that will- no doubt- be highly scrutinized by government and independent testing agencies.

You can read the lawsuit for yourself at the source link, below, and let us know what you think of this lawsuit against Mercedes-Benz in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

Sources: Boostaddict, HBSS Law.

Reprinted with permission.

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About the Author

I've been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the Important Media network. You can find me on Twitter, Skype (jo.borras) or Google+.

  • Freddy D

    The article is referring to “if the system gets cut off” – if it stops working. Well yeah, then you’d have a normal diesel. Just like the millions of pickups all over the USA that seem to go by a different standard.

    And why the system is working? then it’s clean?

    I’m much more concerned about GHG myself. I know diesel is a favorite to bash now but somehow I’m not too concerned.

    Furthermore, there doesn’t appear to be deliberate cheating here, correct?

  • Jamset

    Why does it turn off at below 50℉?

    And is 50℉ referring to the air outside?

  • Harry Johnson

    Dirty Diesel must Die.

    • Agreed. Ive been hearing that baloney about how diesel was “less polluting” than other fuels since I was a teenager in the 1960’s. If you ever had to drive a scooter behind a bus, you know that isn’t true.

      The fossil fuel industry has gamed everything about hydrocarbon fuels to make them appear more “energy dense” (while totally ignoring the waste heat which reduces mechanical efficiency and robs some of the energy needed to move a vehicle for the purpose of cooling the engine) with the Hess’s Law enthalpy broad brush for at least 100 years (ever since they started trying to bad mouth ethanol).

      • wattleberry

        Dead right. Given the truly horrific pollution effects just revealed that would be the only rapid remedy. If nothing else, this issue reminds us that, bad as IC is at operating temperature it is significantly worse when cold, especially when combined with ticking over at lights and junctions, both eliminated with EV.

        • All true. The elephant in the fossil fuel use in internal combustion engines is the HIGH percentage of incomplete combustion products that pollute severely. In ethanol, because it is one chemical that carries it’s own oxygen the incomplete combustion is insignificant compared with the witches brew of varying lengths of hydrocarbon chains (60% of gasoline) plus the 40% of solvents that have ZIP to do with combustion but a LOT to do with the exhaust pollution. Ethanol just needs a minor additive to prevent rubber seal drying in vehicle tank and line components.

          I have often addressed the disingenuous fossil fuel industry propaganda about the alleged “corrosion” that ethanol “causes”. It is an Orwellian statement because hydrocarbons, by their nature, cause MORE corrosion from oxidation.

          Here’s a small anecdote from my days as an air taxi pilot to help you understand how water contamination and consequent damage to your engine is far more likely with gasoline than ethanol.

          I flew light twin aircraft for a number of years. Unfortunately, to this day the gasoline on ICE powered aircraft is the really bad stuff with tetra-ethyl lead (and you thought it was banned from use, didn’t you?). Of course they could run these aircraft engines on ethanol but apparently big oil is exerting influence there too. Remember that if you are on an approach path to a busy general aviation airport, you are getting showered with lead poisons. It’s legal.

          But getting back to my flying experience and water contamination causing corrosion or faulty engine performance, let me explain what big oil doesn’t want to explain to you.

          As a pilot you are concerned with water in your fuel. All pilots are trained to fill the tanks on their aircraft when they finish flying that day. Why? Because any air in those tanks contains a certain amount of water vapor. When the aircraft tank cools at night, water vapor inside a half filled tank will condense into the gasoline.

          Gasoline and water do not mix. Water is heavier and always sinks to the lowest part of the tank which just happens to be where the fuel line to the engine is located. As an air taxi pilot, you don’t own the aircraft and cannot tell if the tanks were topped off the day before until you check. If you are making the first flight on an aircraft on a given day and you find partially filled fuel tanks, that’s a danger sign.

          I would carry a fuel contamination tester (see above) for each preflight. The aircraft fuel tanks have sump drains that are just a hair lower than the fuel line location. You open the sump and take a sample. If you don’t see water in the bottom, you are good to go. If you do find water, you keep draining the sump until there is no evidence of water.

          As a flight instructor, I would put some spit in the gasoline to show my students how easy it is to tell if you have water contamination. The spit will turn into a shiny bead and sink to the bottom of the sample. In other words, if you run gasoline in your tank and don’t fill it up each night (nobody that owns an ICE car does, do they?), you have water in your fuel guaranteed!

          The irony of this fossil fuel founded disinformation about ethanol is that ethanol, unlike gasoline, DOES mix quite well with water! It does NOT separate out. How many times have you seen water in your whisky bottle? You aren’t drinking anhydrous 200 proof are you? Of course not! Humans can’t handle those levels. You probably have between 80 and 130 proof hard liquor ethanol and the rest is WATER (80 proof = 40% ethanol and 60% water).

          So boys and girls, if you have ethanol in your fuel tank, you have LESS chance of water corrosion than with gasoline in an inverse proportion to the ethanol percentage. The greater percentage of ethanol in your fuel, the less chance of corrosion in your tank.

          Because your tank was designed for gasoline, you are ALREADY home free for ethanol. IOW, a tank for ethanol does NOT require the same level of corrosion resistance as a tank designed for gasoline.

          Why? Because water condensation from cooled air inside your fuel tank will mix freely with the alcohol molecules in a state of equilibrium and will NOT sink to the bottom.

          However, if gasoline is what is in your tank, condensed water will sink right to the bottom of your tank and be positioned for hours to DAYS on that bottom ready to aid corrosion when it encounters a bit of oxygen from the air swishing around your tank. You can put that in the next fossil fueler’s pipe and make them smoke it the next time you hear some lies about ethanol caused water corrosion.

  • Zorba

    Adding “urea”? Hmmm. They’ve struggled to make Diesel “cleaner” without affecting mileage too much and we’ve been seeing the limits of that approach as the technology has become more sensitive to changing conditions. It’s time to stop beating this dead horse and put R&D efforts into replacing diesel instead.

    • JamesWimberley

      IIRC adding urea is the standard workaround for bringing diesel NOX emissions down to EPA standards. BMW use it too. VW’s mendacious “breakthrough” was to claim they had met the standards without urea injection, which adds to the cost.

  • Joe Viocoe

    This looks like lawyers out for a payday. Although I do think automakers should be held responsible…. there is no reason to suspect Mercedes of cheating. The testers found a specific circumstance where emissions are much worse than a regular test cycle.

    NOx can be very misleading.
    NOx is one of those emissions that has more to do with engine conditions, than fuel.

    CO2 and other emissions are directly related to how much fuel is burnt. So those emissions don’t vary a whole lot unless the efficiency of the engine is drastically different.
    So if the “real world test” is within 10% of the MPG of the EPA or Euro standard cycle.. all other emissions should be within 10%.
    But NOx is a tricky beast that can go completely off the chart if you run the engine at different loads, temperature, altitude, with fuel impurities, or even a faulty sensor.

    Even if MPG is fairly close to government tests… under varying conditions, NOx can change substantially.

    It is a good thing to have independent tests… but there unless there is a “standard”, the results have little meaning.

    • vigge50

      As what I have understand it the system that will keep the NOx in right level is cut of as soon the temperature is below 10°C or 50°F. I live in Sweden and here the temperature is under 10°C for several months every winter, is it then unfair to expect a manufacturer to make products that will keep inside the law when it’s a normal winter? It’s one thing if they have been 20-50% over the limit then it’s got really cold but 65x the regulations isn’t okay. If there is a law for something that schould be held under normal conditions and I would say that temperatures under 10°C should be count as normal conditions and therefore they should keep the emissions within the rules.

      • Joe Viocoe

        With NOx, it usually doesn’t just exceed by a few percentages. It swings wildly.

        These findings haven’t been independently verified and duplicated, so I’m still thinking that it’s not only cold, but also engine load.
        The 65x is likely to be a combination of conditions, and only for a brief second. It sounds like some peak value.

  • Kraylin

    Ouch, this diesel issue just gets worse and worse…

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