If you’re the owner or driver of a diesel-powered vehicle, it is important to have at least a basic understanding of some of the more important parts you’ll find in the diesel system. A diesel particulate filter is one example of a part that will play an important role in the vehicle’s operation. A failure to keep up with filter maintenance can result in some costly consequences and repairs.

Here’s a quick overview of what diesel particulate filters are and what you need to know about maintaining them in Corpus Christi, TX.

What role does a diesel particulate filter play?

A diesel particulate filter (DPF) is a type of exhaust aftertreatment device designed to trap particulate matter like ash and soot. It generally has a substrate made out of a type of ceramic material formed in a honeycomb structure.

DPFs are designed to capture and store exhaust soot to cut down the emissions that would otherwise come from diesel engines. This soot must be periodically burned off if the filter is to be regenerated. This process involves burning the excess soot that gets deposited into the filter, and by doing so you’ll avoid spewing black smoke into the air while operating the vehicle. If you’ve ever been out on the road and seen a large diesel-powered vehicle emitting black smoke, this is a sign that the driver or owner is not engaging in proper DPF maintenance.

What you should know about DPF maintenance

If you are to properly maintain a DPF, you must make sure it’s capable of regenerating when it fills up with soot. There are a couple types of regeneration: active and passive.

In passive regeneration, heat inside the engine builds up to a degree at which soot gets combined with oxygen, making carbon dioxide. Because carbon dioxide is a gas and not a solid, it is capable of passing through the filter. Ash, however, is simply a byproduct of the combustion process, meaning it is not possible for heat from the engine to convert it. Eventually the ash builds up to the point where you need to actually remove and clean the filter, which you can then reinstall and reuse.

Passive regeneration occurs during normal driving—the driver does not have to do anything to make it happen and usually will not even be aware it’s taking place.

Active regeneration requires some more proactive measures. In this situation, if the engine isn’t creating the heat it needs for passive regeneration to take place, the engine will inject fuel into the exhaust stream, which travels over the oxidation catalyst and then oxidizes the fuel to allow that heat to be generated. At that point, the soot can be converted to carbon dioxide. This also happens without the driver having to do anything.

For more information about diesel particulate filters in Corpus Christi, TX and what you should know about their operational and maintenance requirements, we encourage you to reach out to the team at Coastal Diesel Injection today.