The Ford Transit 3.7L engine conversion to propane autogas is in development and expected to go in for EPA certification by January 2015, according to Blossman Services, managing member of Alliance AutoGas and exclusive United States distributor of Prins Autogas products.
The Transit will be the first “bolt & plug” conversion to be installed by Blossman Services which says the bi-fuel Prins VSI system conversion will require no intake manifold drilling, cutting, or splicing of wiring. The Ford Transit conversion will go into testing this month.
Replacing the Ford E-Series, the Ford Transit vans and wagons are available in single and dual-rear wheels models, with three body lengths, and three roof heights to choose from. Configurations cover 8, 10, 12 and 15 passenger seating, providing flexible cargo volume and payload options. Compared with the previous Ford full-size E-Series van, the all-new Transit Wagon offers higher fuel economy ratings and is designed to haul cargo or carry people. The 3.7L Ti-VCT V6 surpasses the E-Series standard 4.6L V8 gas engine in EPA estimated highway mpg by 19 percent.
Nestlé Waters North America’s Los Angeles, California location has begun operating five medium-duty beverage trucks fueled by propane autogas. The trucks will deliver Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water to area businesses and residents. The company said ti purchased the propane autogas vehicles because of the ease of fueling, the low infrastructure cost and the unexpected benefit of lower electricity costs.
“Nestlé Waters North America is committed to delivering customers drinking water with reliable, innovative and efficient green transportation solutions,” said Bill Ardis, fleet manager for Nestlé Waters North America. “Like many, we are evaluating the different technologies that offer savings over the life of the vehicle and realized that propane autogas is a smart choice for reducing fuel and maintenance costs while providing cleaner air for the community.”
The Nestlé Waters Los Angeles location currently utilizes on-site refueling for their diesel powered trucks. They have an on-site propane autogas fueling station as part of its propane commitment.
“Fueling beverage delivery trucks with propane autogas offers the best total cost of ownership, without compromising standard delivery procedures,” added Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing for ROUSH CleanTech. “By choosing this safe, abundant and American-made fuel, fleets around the nation are reducing their operating costs and lowering their carbon footprint.”
2014 World LP Gas Forum Photo Album
Earlier this year, the delivery giant UPS expanded commitment to propane by adding 1,000 propane delivery trucks and 50 fueling stations at UPS locations.
“It was the easiest alternative fuel they’ve ever transitioned into their fleet…the easiest installation of infrastructure of any alternative fuel,” said Michael Taylor, Autogas Business Director for the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC). The only complaint was that drivers said the new vehicles are “too quiet.”
Powertrain Integration (PI) was the company that designed the propane autogas V8 packages that are being used in the new brown trucks and president Bob Pachla says UPS adopted the new propane technology very quickly. “Typically what they’ll do is put units into a fleet and test it and you’ll hear from them two or three years later,” said Pachla. “In this case, we put the fleet into production, 20 units, the fall of last year and they made the announcement this year to build a thousand UPS step vans.”
Taylor and Pachla discussed UPS and the propane powered engines at the recent World LP Gas Forum in Miami. Listen to them here and watch the video below: Propane Power for UPS
The nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a leading energy, grains and foods company is opening a new propane rail terminal in Wisconsin. CHS announced the opening of the new terminal in Hixton, just in time to meet demand for the upcoming heating season.
The new terminal is owned by CHS and operated by Federation Cooperative of Black River Falls, Wis. Served by the CN railroad, the terminal will initially have 360,000 gallons of storage, the ability to unload six railcars every 4.5 hours, and two truck loading bays capable of loading six trucks per hour. The secure terminal, which uses modern automation and safety technologies, will be completed in mid-November.
“CHS invested in this terminal as part of a broader $24 million investment to develop a robust supply network for propane marketers in the Northern Tier region affected by the Cochin pipeline reversal,” according to Drew Combs, CHS vice president of propane. “Our goal is to help marketers serve homeowners, farms and businesses with a safe, reliable supply of propane, and to position our customers for future growth while adding value for our member owners,” says Combs.
State officials on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony said the new terminal will be a major asset for the state.
2014 World LP Gas Forum Photo Album
One of the keys to getting more propane-powered vehicles on the road is getting more propane autogas fueling infrastructure and making it safe and simple for users.
Superior Energy Systems offers a whole line of autogas dispensing systems and during a Propane Education & Research Council event at the World LP Gas Forum, Mike Walters talked about how they are making it so easy your grandmother can use it. “The whole idea is to get autogas fueling to the point of being so similar to gasoline that people aren’t afraid of it,” said Walters, showing off what they nicknamed the Granny Nozzle. “It’s so simple that granny can pull into the C-store and fuel up her SUV without having to have personal protective equipment.”
“What we’re talking about here is low emission transfer versus no emission transfer,” Walters said.
Listen to Walters here and watch the video below to see the system. Mike Walters, Superior Energy Systems
Chicago-based Alpha Baking Company received this year’s Propane Autogas Fleet award from the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) at the annual Green Fleet Conference & Expo in Schaumburg, Illinois this week.
The award honors one public or private fleet every year for leadership in sustainability by switching to clean, American-made propane autogas. Alpha Baking, a national bakery products distributor and home to the iconic S. Rosen’s brand, developed and implemented 22 Ford E-450 bread delivery trucks in 2012 with the help of Roush CleanTech.
“Alpha Baking’s primary reason for adopting propane autogas was because it was the right thing to do. Propane autogas reduces harmful emissions, it’s made in the U.S., it reduces our dependency on foreign oil, it’s efficient, and it keeps our communities clean,” said Bob McGuire, Alpha Baking’s vice president and director of logistics, who accepted the award during the Green Fleet Awards ceremony. “Choosing vehicles that run on American-made propane autogas has also allowed us to lower fuel costs without sacrificing performance.”
Hear more about Alpha Baking’s experience with propane autogas in PERC’s latest Straight Talk video at propanestraighttalk.com.
The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) released a series of online videos with leading U.S. equipment manufacturers highlighting their investment in developing and commercializing new propane technologies. The videos debuted to an international crowd at the 2014 World LP Gas Forum in Miami, where they ran continuously on screens in the PERC showcase at the event.
Companies featured in the series include Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., Generac, Kohler Engines and Power Systems, Marathon, Origin Engines, Power Solutions International, and Roush CleanTech. “These world-class companies continue to build and commercialize new equipment that runs on propane for good reason: Propane is a smart investment. It’s clean, economical, and it performs,” said Roy Willis, PERC president and CEO. “On top of that, these companies stand behind propane because it’s an American-made fuel that supports American jobs and our domestic energy independence.”
At the LPG forum, Willis spoke to members of various industry publications that focus on different sectors where propane is used – from agriculture and on-road, to commercial landscaping, building and residential. PERC is an industry checkoff program which has been in existence since 1998, and Willis explained how they have transitioned in recent years from a focus on marketing and advertising to developing new technologies. “The industry recognized that to grow our industry we needed to expand beyond our existing customer base and to do so we needed propane technology that customer base could use,” said Willis.
Listen to Willis’ comments here: Roy Willis, PERC president and CEO
2014 World LP Gas Forum Photo Album
At the World LP Gas Forum in Miami this week, CleanFUEL USA announced the addition of mass flow meter technology to its line of propane autogas refueling dispensers.
Global demand is high for mass flow technology, the most advanced meter technology in the world, and CleanFUEL USA is offering immediate availability for the first time in the United States and worldwide. “There’s been a great demand in the world for this technology, more so outside the U.S.,” said Chrystelle Markley with CleanFUEL. “We thought it was important for us, as a technology leader, to bring this technology to the U.S.”
Demand for propane autogas is higher in European and Latin American countries. “There’s about 15 million vehicles in the world running on propane gas, in the United States less than 200,000 today,” said CleanFUEL’s Wayne Moore. “So, the U.S. has the opportunity to increase the amount of vehicles here.”
Mass flow meter benefits include no moving parts, greatly reduced maintenance, remote diagnostics and lifetime calibration.
Listen to an interview with CleanFUEL from the World LP Gas Forum: Interview with Wayne Moore and Chrystelle Markley, CleanFUEL USA
2014 World LP Gas Forum Photo Album
Welcome to Miami and the 27th annual World LP Gas Forum!
The World LP Gas Association has members in 130 countries and a good percentage of those are represented here at this event. Because it’s in the United States this year, the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) has a special presence to showcase new innovations for propane use in a variety of markets, including on-road.
Alison Abbot, marketing and communications director for the World LP Gas Association, says the event moves around the globe each year. “It’s the first time since 2008 we’ve been in the United States, the last time was in Chicago,” said Abbot. Last year it was in London and next year it will be in Singapore.
Abbot says PERC is a very active member of the WLPGA and the work the organization is doing in promotion and research of new markets and innovations for propane. “We work very closely with PERC,” she said. “What we do as the world association is we take what fellow associations like PERC in the United States do and act as a central hub to disseminate it out.”
Listen to my interview with Alison here: Interview with Alison Abbot, World LP Gas Association
2014 World LP Gas Forum Photo Album
Energy was a big reason that regional cooperative GROWMARK had such a big year this year. This company news release says Fiscal Year 2014 was in the top five income years in company history, and a lot of the credit goes to record volumes in the company’s propane and biofuels business.
Marshall Bohbrink, vice president and chief financial officer, reported record sales of $10.4 billion; consolidated pretax income of $194 million; and total patronage in the amount of $112 million will be returned to GROWMARK member-owners.
“GROWMARK is in extremely strong financial condition and we are well positioned in the event the Ag economy is more challenging in the next few years,” said Bohbrink.
Key highlights of FY2014 operational results include:
GROWMARK Energy reported record fuel volume with an increase in gasoline and distillate sales of 11% and an increase of 29 percent in propane gallons.
There is a new app for propane. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) released a suite of cost calculator tools designed for customers in three of the industry’s fastest-growing markets: agriculture, commercial landscape, and on road fleets. The calculators estimate potential fuel savings and ROI when using propane as compared with conventional fuels such as gasoline and diesel.
“One of the main reasons fleets, agribusiness operators or commercial landscapers consider making a switch to an alternative fuel like propane is simple: They want to improve their bottom line,” said Tucker Perkins, PERC’s chief business development officer. “With these new applications, equipment dealers, propane providers, and customers can easily calculate fuel costs with propane specific to their market and operations. And with the online and mobile tools, they can share results on the spot via email.”
The PERC cost calculator series currently includes the Propane Irrigation Engine Calculator, Propane Mower Calculator and Propane Autogas Calculator – all available in multiple different platforms.
Propane supplies going into the winter are looking good this year. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) is citing U.S. Energy Information Administration information that expects a warmer winter and a propane stocks up 17 percent from a year ago in the Gulf Coast and Midwest, along with a 12 percent increase in production from 2013.
“These are positive signs,” said Roy Willis, president and CEO of the Propane Education & Research Council, “but our industry is working hard to ensure our customers are prepared. Propane retailers across the country remain focused on safety and encouraging customers to consider early fills, automatic refills, and payment programs now before cold weather hits.”
PERC launched a $5.5 million consumer safety and preparedness campaign in early September directing residential heating customers and agribusiness operators, among others, to propanecomfort.com. On the site, propane customers can take a quiz to determine if they are prepared for winter and review energy efficiency tips. Visitors can also sign up for news updates from PERC.
“Preliminary numbers for the campaign show that nearly 20,000 customers have already taken advantage of our online resources and we expect to see continued engagement as we get closer to winter,” said Willis.
PERC will TV ads through Thanksgiving in 30 states most affected by deliverability challenges and temporary price increases last winter.
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) has adopted propane autogas. The organization has purchased paratransit shuttle buses to transport persons with disabilities. The first of its kind in Ohio, according to RTA, the new shuttles are projected to save $21,000 per vehicle in fuel costs and maintenance over a six-year period. The agency will recoup its investment in just over one year.
“We learned of other transit agencies that were successful using propane autogas technology to save money and lower their environmental impact,” said Joe Calabrese, CEO and general manager of the Greater Cleveland RTA. “When you can save money while saving the planet, it’s a no-brainer.”
Built on a Ford E-450 chassis, each paratransit shuttle bus is equipped with a ROUSH CleanTech liquid propane autogas fuel system installed by Green Alternative Systems. ElDorado National-Kansas designed the body of its Aerotech bus model on a fiberglass composite reinforced structure. The floor plan configuration features a wheelchair lift to accommodate passengers with disabilities. With more than 700,000 trips annually, the paratransit shuttles operate on-demand to qualified customers.
“We’ve combined a proven, durable, lightweight bus design with leading-edge alternative fuel technology to produce a cost-effective vehicle for paratransit shuttle service,” said Jeff Montgomery, president of ElDorado National-Kansas. “We are proud to join our dealer Meyers Equipment and ROUSH CleanTech to meet the special transportation needs of the Greater Cleveland RTA.”
The RTA is one of the largest transit systems in the nation. Currently, the agency is building an onsite propane autogas fueling station.
A big corn harvest this year could affect the supply and price of propane, a big fuel for drying the crop. This story from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says if the weather allows farmers to dry their crops in the field before harvest, there will be plenty of supply, and prices will be stable … unlike last year’s wet harvest time.
Last year, propane demand in the top five corn-producing states increased in October to levels that rivaled the normal peak demand in January, drawing down propane inventories before the heating season began. Propane inventories in the Midwest were drawn down by 4.1 million barrels (130,000 bbl/d) in October, which was the largest October stock draw since 1985.
As a result, Midwest inventories of propane started the heating season at relatively low levels and remained at the bottom of the five-year range through December. Logistical problems, including the closure for maintenance of the Cochin Pipeline that transported propane from Canada to the Upper Midwest and disruptions of rail transportation, prevented Midwest inventories from being replenished before winter began. With prolonged cold weather in January and February, propane inventories dipped well below the five-year range.
EIA says propane inventories in the Midwest are higher going into this harvest season, and the supplies should be in good shape, despite the fact that the Cochin Pipeline was reversed earlier this year and now moves condensate from the Midwest to Canada. Those supplies going to Canada will be replaced by additional supplies from domestic sources and better rail and storage capacity.
Southland Transportation recently added 101 Blue Bird Propane Vision buses to its propane autogas school bus fleet. The company is a subsidiary of the largest family-owned pupil transportation provider in Canada with operations in school, motor coach and public transportation. The new Propane Vision buses will transport students from the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) and Medicine Hat School District No. 76.
Southland Transportation first started operating Blue Bird Propane Vision buses in 2007 with good results. The company’s corporate commitment to the environment can be seen throughout all facets of the organization from anti-idling programs to recycling programs. Southland Transportation’s environmental policies also play a factor with onsite fuel options. With non-toxic properties and an uncomplicated set-up, propane autogas is the only fueling infrastructure that Southland Transportation permits on its properties.
“Our Propane Visions have been a proven performer. Due to the clean-operation and straightforward technology, I would estimate that each propane bus annually saves us about $500 in basic maintenance costs,” said Tom Jezersek, vice president at Southland Transportation. “As a former licensed mechanic, I am well-versed to the advantages of propane autogas. These buses are safe, reliable and immediately start in temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius, without the use of oil pan heaters or block heaters. Our drivers also enjoy the buses as they are quiet, powerful and come to temperature very quickly. Propane autogas is an excellent choice for districts.”
The Calgary Board of Education, located in Calgary, Alberta, transports over 3,400 students to 65 area schools utilizing Blue Bird Propane Vision school buses. Already operating 32 Propane Vision buses Southland Transportation recently added an additional 59 propane-powered school buses to the district’s fleet bringing the total Propane Vision fleet to 91.