Diesel exhaust fluid setting records at Great Plains Synfuels Plant

August was another record-breaking month for diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) production and sales at Dakota Gasification Company's Great Plains Synfuels Plant. In August, the plant produced more gallons of DEF than ever before. Production was about three times as much as a normal month. Urea and natural gas prices have been higher than normal, as well.

Five major urea and DEF production facilities are in the midst of planned and unplanned maintenance turnarounds, and as a result DEF prices and demand have soared. The Synfuels Plant has adjusted production to capitalize on the market changes.

As the market for DEF increased in early July, Zach Jacobson, Dakota Gasification Company marketing account manager, said production at the Synfuels Plant was shifted to making less granular urea so additional DEF could be produced. That is a clear advantage the Synfuels Plant has, as commodity prices change, so can its product slate. This transition took one day to complete.

“When we first built the urea plant I would have said there is no way we could have produced and shipped as much DEF as we have the last few months,” said Trinity Turnbow Synfuels Plant assistant plant manager and operations manager. “The job that operators have done loading and moving it without any big hiccups has been outstanding and the collaboration between all the groups has been really good. It’s helping our customers get the products they need and it’s helping Dakota Gas’ bottom line.”

According to Jacobson, September volumes and prices look to be similar to August.  

DEF is urea liquor, which is required by law for modern diesel engines for emissions control. It is injected into the exhaust stream to react with harmful greenhouse gases. DEF is a non-hazardous solution comprised of 32.5% urea and 67.5% de-ionized water. It has a slight smell of ammonia, similar to some home cleaning agents. DEF is used in selective catalytic reduction technology to remove harmful NOx (nitrogen oxides) emissions from diesel engines.

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