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Storing and handling AdBlue correctly: What farmers need to know

With more tractors requiring AdBlue, we are now getting used to having it around the farm, but are you storing and using it correctly? With help from supplier Yara UK, we offer some guidance.


Jane Carley reports...

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Storing and handling AdBlue correctly: What farmers need to know #TopTips

Diesel exhaust fluid, more commonly known by its brand name AdBlue, is a high purity urea solution used in the emissions control systems of many engines fitted with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR).


Filling with AdBlue has become a routine part of the daily maintenance regime, as most recently-manufactured tractors have engines with strict emissions control.


It is not a fuel, nor a fuel additive and must be used in a dedicated tank on the vehicle, refilled as and when required. In many tractor manufacturer cases, failure to refill will result in a de-rate of the engine, forcing you to comply.


However, the process of filling and storing AdBlue requires finding a safe, suitable storage area for drums or containers of the fluid, which is also convenient for filling the machine.


To find out more, we get some tips from supplier Yara UK.

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What is the best container to store AdBlue in? Are drums better for minimal usage?


If buying packaged AdBlue many suppliers will deliver it in sealed packs, which should be properly resealed when it is not being used.


It can also be supplied in drums or intermediate bulk containers (IBCs), and the ideal size of the container depends on the usage amount. The more tractors and other machines with SCR engines you have and the more hours they do, the more AdBlue you will need.


If usage is minimal then a drum will be best. AdBlue should not be stored for more than 12 months.


Always use dedicated containers. Do not use AdBlue if it has been contaminated with tap water or other substances, such as diesel fuel. It cannot be diluted either.


What temperature should it be stored at and does it need keeping out of sunlight?


AdBlue should ideally be stored within a temperature range of 0-30degC and kept protected from direct sunlight.


It is possible for AdBlue to freeze at -11degC, so it is important the storage area is not below this temperature. If AdBlue has frozen it can be reused when it has thawed as it will return to its original state.


Above an ambient temperature of 30degC, AdBlue can start to decompose. Chill the AdBlue container if it becomes overheated by spraying the sealed container with water.


Are there any specific requirements for handling or filling with AdBlue?


Do not use old diesel or oil containers to transfer AdBlue into the tank. Any non-dedicated equipment can contaminate AdBlue. Even very small quantities of fuel/oil/lubricant can damage your SCR system. Use demineralised water or AdBlue when cleaning internally or priming AdBlue equipment.


Protect against misuse by not mixing the fluid or containers with tap water, fuel, oil or other liquids.


The storage area must be clean and free from dust to avoid any contamination, especially when a vehicle is being filled with AdBlue.

Does the storage area need to be bunded?


Yes, if an IBC is used for storage then a bund should be built for it to be placed on. All bulk tanks should be bought from a reputable AdBlue storage supplier and bunded to catch leaks or spills from the primary container while it is in use.


AdBlue dispensing equipment should be sited on an appropriately designed flat base with an impermeable surface and should ideally be isolated from the surface water drainage system.


It should also be protected from impact using crash protection barriers.


The store must be situated away from areas within proximity to, or pathways leading to, sensitive receptors: e.g. watercourses, groundwater, canals, nearby abstraction points and protected environmental features, such as Sites of Specific Scientific Interest or nature reserves.


Do not flush AdBlue into the sewer system. Waste AdBlue has to be disposed of properly as special refuse.


Wipe up any spills on metal, brickwork or concrete as corrosion may occur.


How long does it keep?


If the storage instructions are followed, then AdBlue can be stored for up to a year. If you need to store AdBlue for longer or in difficult conditions, such as in a combine harvester, then it is best to drain the AdBlue first or to analyse the AdBlue to ensure it remains within the specification needed.


If not used for long periods it is also worth agitating AdBlue storage tanks/containers.


Do you need any personal protective equipment to handle it with?


AdBlue is non-flammable and non-explosive. It is classified as a transportable fluid with minimal risk.


If you ever spill AdBlue on your hands, simply wash them thoroughly with water. Gloves can be worn if you have sensitive skin to avoid any risk of irritation.


However, you should wear protective clothing if you are handling large quantities of AdBlue with the risk of a spill.

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