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How to store AdBlue 

If you use diesel-powered equipment – especially EU Stage V compliant engines – you’re likely already using DEF (diesel exhaust fluid) or, as it’s commonly known, AdBlue. 

AdBlue is essential for keeping diesel equipment running smoothly while reducing emissions released into the atmosphere. It’s  widely used throughout the construction industry, but many issues and questions remain about storing it onsite. DEF differs from fuel, yet proper handling is vital to maintain purity. Many users are yet to understand how DEF works and its importance. 

At Western Global, we’ve designed unique AdBlue storage solutions that differ from existing products on the market. Each tank has a secondary containment with a steel outer that helps with temperature control, meaning your AdBlue will retain its usability, even in colder climates. 

You can check out our AdBlue product range at Intermat 2024, the must-attend event for sustainable construction solutions and technologies. Be sure to check out the all-new 2200L DEFCube Global, which gives you more flexibility when working with AdBlue on-site. Learn more about Intermat here.

What is AdBlue?

AdBlue is another name for diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), a non-toxic mix of deionised water and urea. It was introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2010 as part of the Clean Air Act. As per these standards, heavy-duty vehicles and machinery, such as vehicles with stage V engines and off-road construction equipment, often use DEF. 

The purpose of AdBlue is to reduce emissions released from diesel engines as part of a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system. Without it, many engines release harmful emissions into the atmosphere and can cause engine shutdown.

What is the EU Stage V legislation?

Using AdBlue means complying with the EU Stage V legislation, the emission standard for Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM). If you’re using equipment such as generators  with an output of 19 kW or more, you must reduce the amount of emissions released from that engine. 

The latest standard is the strictest emissions standard in the world, and using diesel exhaust fluid is essential to comply. Our new 22DEF tank means you always have enough AdBlue on hand, even when working on remote sites. 

Western Global at Intermat

We’re excited to showcase Western’s AdBlue solutions at INTERMAT 2024. We are launching the 2200L DEFCube Global at the show, alongside displaying our existing 500L DEFCube Global and 3000L TransCube Global.  

Take advantage of our range of products on display. Western Global will be at stand 5a J098 from 24 to 27 April 2024. We look forward to seeing you there. 

Need a ticket? Check out our INTERMAT event page to get an exclusive ticket for the show.

DEFCube Global stacked on top of TransCube fuel tank

Are DEF and AdBlue the same thing?

As mentioned above, DEF stands for diesel exhaust fluid. But in the UK, this fluid is also known as AdBlue. Originally a branded term, the name has become synonymous with DEF,so there’s often confusion around the two terms. However, they both mean the same thing. So, whether you call it AdBlue or DEF, you’re referring to diesel exhaust fluid.

How does AdBlue work?

AdBlue is added to your equipment’s exhaust stream, creating a chemical reaction that turns nitrous oxide (NOx) into nitrogen and water. This non-toxic substance minimises the amount of carbon released without compromising the engine’s power.

The key to using AdBlue is that it cannot run dry. If a vehicle or equipment runs low, it won’t perform as well and may eventually stop working. This is where storing DEF in bulk helps save money and prevent delays onsite – no more waiting for deliveries when no diesel exhaust fluid is available. 

However, DEF does have an expiration date, and if it’s contaminated, its performance is affected. Your AdBlue storage solution must keep your stock secure and clearly labelled to help avoid cross-contamination.

How to store AdBlue 

AdBlue isn’t a fuel – it’s a liquid used to reduce and treat exhaust emissions. Therefore, it cannot be treated like  diesel and maintaining its purity should be a priority. 

Due to its non-toxic nature, AdBlue is not as regulated as fuel, but there are still some standards to follow. ISO22241 is the standard for transporting, handling and manufacturing DEF, and it details the requirements for safe AdBlue storage conditions. 

When storing AdBlue, you should:

  • Separate your stock from other fuels and chemicals to minimise contamination. Instead, store DEF in an isolated area with minimum surface water drains. 
  • Also, ensure it is out of direct sunlight to avoid losing its urea potency. 
  • Regularly clean dispensing nozzles, as well as equipment and machinery. 
  • Make sure only to use dedicated AdBlue systems – do not mix with other fuels. 
  • Because of this, avoid overfilling your DEF fluid in case it spills over and contact  other metals. 


How long does AdBlue last?

AdBlue’s shelf life  depends on its storage conditions, but it generally lasts one to two years. Once it expires, it’s less effective and can lead to issues with equipment and machinery. 

You should be able to find the expiration date of your DEF clearly marked on its container. However, if you’re unsure, you can easily tell the condition of your diesel exhaust fluid by simply looking at it. AdBlue is naturally clear – if your stock is cloudy or has particles, it’s likely expired or contaminated.

AdBlue crystallisation – frozen diesel exhaust fluid?

AdBlue freezes at -11°C and can expand up to 7% when frozen. This can potentially damage your tank – especially when full. Some try to add additives to  DEF to prevent it from freezing, but this can affect its purity and effectiveness. If you leave your diesel exhaust fluid to thaw naturally, it should still be usable. 

Maintaining the temperature of your AdBlue has never been easier with our DEFCube Global Range. With pipes, equipment and your diesel exhaust fluid housed securely within our insulated tanks, you can store your AdBlue in weather-proof containment at the right temperature, making it easier to maintain its quality. It also means that fittings are protected from the elements. With these measures in place, you can store AdBlue in bulk for long periods of time, no matter the climate. 

Does AdBlue need to be stored in bunded tanks?

AdBlue should be stored in a bunded container, as recommended by the Environment Agency (EA). This minimises the risk of spills and leaks, especially as DEF can pollute groundwater and watercourses, even with its low toxicity levels.

These guidelines are also in place to help protect the fluid’s purity. Because of AdBlue’s make up, the tiniest bit of dirt or debris can affect its performance – and your engine’s, by extension. This is why it’s vital that your AdBlue is stored safely and securely. We’ll go into more detail about storage conditions later in this guide. 

The tanks in our DEFCube Global range are 110% bunded, offering extreme protection for your AdBlue in challenging circumstances. With your diesel exhaust fluid safely secured within secondary containment, there’s little chance of it leaking out or contaminants making their way in, no matter how dusty your site is. This design also simplifies maintenance, helping you keep pipes and fittings clean and your AdBlue pure.

AdBlue problems – common issues 

Storing AdBlue correctly prolongs its shelf life, minimises contamination and ensures that equipment and off-road vehicles can perform at their best. However, as DEF must be treated differently from other fuels, users find a handful of issues. 

We’ve answered several of your questions regarding AdBlue storage below, but if you want to know more about diesel exhaust fluid and are looking for the best containers, then get in touch with our team.

AdBlue contamination 

AdBlue is often in close proximity to other fluids, meaning that there’s always a risk of contamination. This is whether your DEF contaminates your fuel or vice versa. Following the recommended AdBlue storage conditions ensures that your diesel exhaust fluid – and equipment – is usable and isn’t just money down the drain. 

If not careful, AdBlue can often leak into fuel tanks and seriously impact your equipment. It can clog up pipes and affect the fuel’s lubricating properties, leading to more wear and tear on  your engine. In the worst cases, the engine will shut down. 

When this happens, fuel systems must  be flushed and thoroughly cleaned to remove all traces of contaminated substances. You can’t reuse contaminated AdBlue, so ensure this is disposed of safely. 

This is why AdBlue is often stored in blue containers with blue filling caps – to help differentiate it from other liquids. Only dedicated pumps and containers should be used for AdBlue, with all fittings safely closed and locked away to prevent drips or leaks. 

How can you prevent AdBlue spillages?  

Like any liquid, AdBlue spillages can happen. But the difference is that a spill isn’t a major issue. 

We mentioned earlier that there are less regulations to follow when storing AdBlue, so you’re less likely to be fined. The only time a spill is cause for concern is if it mixes with another fuel or it’s leaked down a drain. DEF can corrode some materials and may affect the drainage pipes if this does happen. 

In the event of a spill, make sure the solution does not enter any drains or waterways. Then, contain the spill with a spill kit and dispose of it safely.

Diesel exhaust fluid spills should still be avoided. The 22DEF provides complete containment, meaning that any leaks would spill into the outer tank. The tank is robust and can withstand wear and tear, providing next-level protection for your diesel exhaust fluid. Leakage risk is also minimised with pipes secured behind the cabinet – you can still refuel equipment with the hose while it is locked.

What happens if you run out of AdBlue?

If AdBlue runs dry, engines won’t start and sites can be shut down for weeks or even months in the worst cases, as you wait for the next delivery. If there is fuel contamination, you must also wait for equipment to be replaced. You should manage your DEF consumption as you do fuel, ensuring there’s always more fluid ready to use. 

Bulk DEF tanks are ideal for storing AdBlue onsite, no matter the circumstances. We’ve made sure that our tanks are fit for purpose. The 22DEF tank is  a robust and ready solution that helps retain the purity of your AdBlue, maintaining its shelf life and saving you time and money. 

The tank is designed for mobile refuelling, meaning it can be easily forklifted to and from site, and even stacked when empty to save space. There’s also minimal set-up time, so once it’s dropped onsite, you’ll be up and running in no time.

DEFCube Global containers for AdBlue  

We designed our DEFCube Global range  with our customers in mind. We listened to what our customers wanted and manufactured a next-level AdBlue storage solution unlike those currently on the market. 

Providing 110% bunded containment for security and protection, our DEFCube is ideal for hot and cold climates and can be lifted into challenging environments. Refuel generators and equipment as and when needed, knowing that your diesel exhaust fluid is safely contained. 

We’re also excited to launch our new 22DEF tank – which features all the benefits of our AdBlue tanks but on a larger scale. With a capacity of 2200L, you can keep your site stocked up with AdBlue for as long as you need. 

Find out more about the DEFCube Global range here or request a quote from our team. 

DEFCube Global Product Range

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