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Redefining Reliability in Cold Weather

ISX15 TRV locationIn cold weather approaching 15°F (-9°C), diesel fuel can begin forming waxy crystals, creating potential performance issues in Northern climates. This has always been the case, and historically, solutions to the issue have ranged from heating elements along fuel lines and filtration devices to utilizing a blend of #1 and #2 fuels. These approaches were highly effective until about 2010, with the introduction of High Pressure Common Rail (HPCR) fuel systems. The tendency of the fuel to gel in cold weather creates the potential (over time) to eventually clog smaller passages in the system, leading to fuel starvation issues. New technology is now available to help prevent gelling and waxing of fuel. It’s a component called a Thermal Recirculation Valve, and was introduced in December 2014. It’s highlighted in the photo to the right.

When the ambient temperature drops below 77°F (25°C) the Thermal Recirculation Valve automatically takes excess fuel that’s been heated by the engine and redirects part of it into the fuel lines that go directly into the engine, with the remainder being returned to the fuel tank. This effectively raises the temperature of the fuel throughout the entire system, minimizing the potential for gelling and waxing to occur and enhancing reliable performance in cold weather conditions. The Thermal Recirculation Valve is capable of melting wax inside the primary fuel filter as low as -9°F (-23°C), well below the point at which the fuel starts to “cloud.”

The Thermal Recirculation Valve is available as a retrofit kit for earlier ISX engines dating back to 2010. Some specific components are required depending on the OEM configuration. Please check with your local Cummins distributor for details.

Installing the Thermal Recirculation Valve is just one of several actions your customers can take to winterproof their vehicles. Others include:

  • Verify all coolant lines and connections are leak-free; using the proper coolant/antifreeze mixture (ethylene glycol concentration) for route conditions/temperatures
  • Adding starting aids (coolant heater/intake manifold heater) in extreme environments
  • Adding an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) for cabin heating when idling at length
  • Using winterized diesel, or blending #1 and #2 fuels
  • Adding a fuel warmer to the fuel system
  • Double-checking Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) warming lines before temperatures drop
  • Modifying the air intake in extreme cold (-25°F and below) to position adjacent to the exhaust manifold
  • Checking cold-cranking capacity of the battery, and adding a battery warmer in extreme cold conditions
  • Switching to 5W30 engine oil for normal winter conditions, or 0W30 when encountering prolonged Arctic cold conditions; a dipstick oil heater can help maintain oil lubricity and improve the cold-starting capability of your customers’ fleets
  • Closely monitor and drain the water/fuel separator
  • In below-freezing conditions, set the “fast idle” setting to 1,000-1,200 rpm

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