Propane Autogas Gains Momentum
Michael Taylor, PERC’s director of autogas business development (left), and Jeremy Lessaris, Power Solutions International (PSI)’s global director of marketing, present PSI’s 8.8-liter propane engine at PERC’s exhibit. Photo by Amy Winter.
Approximately 2,000 attendees gathered in Miami on Oct. 28-30 for the annual World Liquefied Petroleum (LP) Gas Forum to highlight new equipment and legislative developments. Eighty-eight countries were represented, with the most visitors from the U.S., India, Brazil, Japan and Nigeria.
To help demonstrate propane’s multiple uses, the World LP Gas Association (WLPGA)’s LPG Applications website (www.lpg-apps.org) went live on Tuesday during the event. This new one-stop shop features everything about LPG applications — from industrial to agricultural to commercial to transportation.
Featuring more than 80 companies from around the world, the exhibitors highlighted the latest LP products and services, including production, storage, transportation, installation and distribution.
The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) — the U.S.-based organization that supports research and development of propane-powered technologies — featured a showcase demonstrating the different industries where propane is used. These industries include agricultural, commercial, residential, on-road and off-road.
Within the showcase, PERC, a platinum sponsor of the event, released an online video series “Clean American Innovation,” which goes behind-the-scenes at manufacturing facilities to capture footage of propane technologies. Companies featured in the videos included Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., Kohler Engines, Power Solutions International (PSI) and Roush CleanTech.
Michael Taylor, PERC’s director of autogas business development, highlighted the advantages of running propane autogas fleet vehicles.
“Lower fuel, maintenance, repair and infrastructure costs, coupled with no upfront capital costs required to modify existing garages or construct new buildings, propane autogas is the most cost-effective fuel to deploy in fleets today,” said Taylor. “Today’s propane autogas vehicles provide equivalent performance with no compromise in horsepower, torque or towing capacity when compared to conventional fuel vehicles.”
One of the reasons for today’s increase in propane autogas vehicles is the evolution of fuel system technology. According to Taylor, the fuel systems have advanced from vapor based to liquid EFI (electronic fuel injection) — where the fuel can be injected into the engine in a liquid state.
Currently, several OEMs sell a type of propane vehicle, including General Motors, Freightliner, Isuzu and Ford. For example, vehicle modifier Roush CleanTech currently offers propane autogas versions of Ford’s E-Series vans.
Working with PERC, UPS — one of the largest delivery fleets in the U.S. — invested $70 million to purchase 1,000 propane autogas delivery trucks and install 50 fueling stations at UPS sites earlier this year. UPS partnered with Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., which provided the chassis that’s powered by a General Motors engine and supplied by Powertrain Integration. Powertrain Integration’s GM 6.0L V8 LC8 propane autogas engine was displayed at the event.
Mike Walters, vice president of safety and training at Superior Energy Systems, demonstrated how his company’s autogas dispensers work. With 700 dispensers nationwide, each propane unit contains an easy-to-use “granny nozzle” and a touch-screen, which looks similar to a gasoline filling station, according to Walters.
Mike Walters, vice president of safety and training at Superior Energy Systems, (left) demonstrates how his company's autogas dispensers work.
PSI, a diverse manufacturer of propane engines, had one of its propane engines on display. Jeremy Lessaris, PSI’s global director of marketing, discussed how the 8.8-liter engine can be used in class 4-7 trucks and school/transit buses.
"We've seen a bigger interest in propane over natural gas for return-to-base style fleets, due to the high upfront cost of natural gas infrastructure," said Lessaris.
To help on-road fleets calculate potential fuel savings and ROI with propane compared to gasoline and diesel, PERC has recently released an online cost calculator tool at www.propanecostcalculator.com.
“Propane autogas is the fuel of choice for over 23 million vehicles globally, with approximately 162,000 vehicles operating in the United States,” said Taylor. “Adoptions are increasing and propane autogas continues to prove its value as a sustainable fuel of choice with each purchase.”
Click here to view the event's photo gallery.