EXCEL offers cleaner SOLUTIONFriday, November 12, 2021
BY RORY DALEY
WITH rising petroleum prices and environmental concerns fresh on the minds of the public, Excel Autogas hopes to do something about both issues and more with new liquid petroleum gas (LPG) fuel conversion kits from global alternative fuels company ICOM North America.
Excel Autogas had the product launch at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, St Andrew, on November 8.
“Today, we are taking the next step forward. The next step is to convert diesel engines with LPG,” Patrick Marzouca, CEO of Excel Autogas, told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine.
Marzouca recalled his own history with alternative fuels seven years, having first done the LPG conversion on three of his vehicles for testing, eventually cementing his confidence in the use and benefits of LPG before entering the market.
“Our quest is to clean the air in the country that we live,” said Marzouca.
Marzouca's patriotic aim was lauded by Excel Autogas consultant Dr Andrew Wheatly, who was present at the launch.
“Oftentimes, we expect the larger more developed countries, who are themselves the largest contributors to climate change, that we here in countries like Jamaica, Latin America and the Caribbean need to play our own part by embracing technologies that seek to reduce our carbon footprint,” Wheatly said.
The conversion kits from ICOM North America, the foremost manufacturer of alternative fuel system in North America, are the first locally to be able to be used in diesel and direct injection engines.
“Globally, we're doing more diesel dual-fuel conversions than 100 per cent propane gasoline engines, so the system has been out there, it's just the adaptation has been slower,” said Albert Venezio III, vice-president of ICOM North America.
The LPG conversions are primarily being targeted towards heavy fuel users, like fleets, and more importantly, those running diesel, for which the use of LPG was not available locally. Marzouca reports that several fleets that made the switch to LPG have seen up to a 60 per cent reduction in their fuel bills.
LPG is a liquefied gas and is a by-product from extracting crude petroleum. It weighs twice as much as air as it's comprised of propane mixed with butane, traces of propylene and butylene. It's also colourless and odourless. As a fuel, it provides several key advantages, which are that of cleaner combustion, a higher octane rating, and having a fuel weight-to-mileage similar to that of traditional gasoline.
For gasoline vehicles, the system is simple by injecting LPG from a safe, high-pressure tank mounted in the vehicle. LPG storage tanks can be cylindrical or round to fit within a spare wheel well, and in the case of those designed by ICOM, sturdy enough to pass North American safety regulations. LPG is injected into the engine using a secondary pump. In the case of direct injection and diesel, ICOM's system uses the factory high-pressure pump. The computer-controlled system operates invisibly, switching to gasoline once the LPG tank is empty.
“The way the fuel is used or burned, all depends on if it's diesel or a gasoline engine. On gasoline, it will run 100 per cent, ignited by your spark plugs in the vehicle. In diesel applications, it's actually a dual fuel method where it's burning both diesel and LPG at the same time,” explained Venezio.
There are two types of kits according to Venezio, vapour and liquid injection. Vapour kits are the most cost effective as they inject the LPG as vapour into the engine, while liquid injection is normally used for OEM levels of operation. Regardless of which, the benefits remain the same as LPG is normally cheaper than gasoline, reduces maintenance costs because it doesn't promote carbon build up inside the engine, and creates less harmful emissions at the tailpipe.