Working for a greener future

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DOMESTIC / HOUSEHOLD

The use of clean fuels like liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) instead of the biomass-based fuels used for cooking in developing countries would be beneficial in several ways. However, many rural homes are still dependent on some form of biomass for their cooking needs even though the use of LPG would be considerably less expensive.

Hence Gazel Gaz, along with a consortium with members from the European Community, Dominican partnership and Haitian partners is implementing a programme of enhancing the household use of LPG. From an overview of the cooking fuels used in developing countries, barriers to increasing LPG use - in particular, the problems regarding affordability of equipment, pricing of the product, and reliable distribution - have been identified. In this context, experiences with the expansion of household LPG use in other countries and have been considered and a development programmed has been devised. Finally, based on the challenges recognized, suggestions are being made regarding the policies through which the problems can be overcome.

INDUSTRIAL / COMMERCIAL

What are the benefits of LPG over other heating fuels?

LPG has several advantages, such as:

  • Its clean burning attributes allow it to be used for direct firing of furnaces, and ovens in situations where the products of combustion can effect the quality of the product. For example, crop process drying, food baking, ceramics manufacture.
  • Gas burning equipment requires less maintenance than oil burners.
  • There is no ash generated from LPG as with wood and coal.
  • It is available in a variety of package sizes from small cylinders to bulk quantities delivered direct to the customer.

When should cylinders be grouped together for supply?

Cylinders should be grouped together when the demand from the application is greater than one cylinder alone can supply or when security of supply is a factor. In these cases it is normal to bank cylinders into two groups. Each group being capable of meeting the supply demand from the process. The two groups of cylinders are linked together via an automatic changeover regulator which will maintain the system to the required pressure and swap supply to the heating process from one group of cylinders to the other group, when the first groups of cylinder are empty.

At what stage should LPG users consider moving from cylinder supply to a bulk tank?

This depends very much on the application, the available space, and the supply logistics. In general, it becomes more economic to supply LPG in bulk when the off-take is consistent, and it is clearly cheaper to transport LPG in bulk quantities than in cylinders. In some cases while it would be cheaper to supply the customer's requirement in bulk, the lack of space to store LPG in bulk becomes a factor and supply via cylinders is maintained.

What are vaporisers, and how are they used?

Vaporisers are heat exchangers, which are used to heat the liquid LPG and convert it to a gas. This is the reason that in many situations the off-take is larger than the natural supply rate of a tank or cylinder. Vaporisers are installed to meet the gas demand by the process. Vaporizers can use the heat provided by hot water, electricity or even LPG from the supply tank.

INDUSTRIAL / COMMERCIAL

Automotive LPG - autogas - is recognized as the most important and widely accepted alternative fuel for the automotive sector. It powers almost 10 million vehicles in more than 53 countries.

Global consumption of autogas is more than 16 million tonnes annually. Autogas is used as a motor fuel because of its inherent environmental benefits. It has lower exhaust emissions than petrol, costs less and can reduce engine wear.

Engines in all the following vehicle types listed below can be designed or adapted to run on LPG Autogas. In fact most internal combustion engines are able to be operated successfully on LPG Autogas.

  • Passenger Vehicles, Commercial Vehicles, 4WD Vehicles
  • Racing Cars, Hot Rods, Dragsters
  • Trucks, Buses, Taxis
  • Fork-lifts, Generators, Go-Karts
  • Lawn Mowers, Stationary Engines, Floor Sweepers

Gazel Gaz will soon announce a list of centers where vehicles can be converted to run on LPG at very reasonable cost.

What are the benefits of converting a vehicle to LPG?

The following are the benefits of converting vehicles to LPG:

  • Generally the price of LPG is lower than petrol giving a cost advantage to the vehicle owner.
  • Unlike petrol, which enters the engine as a fine mist, LPG enters the engine as a gas. This means that under cold start conditions the unburned petrol washes down the cylinder wall diluting and removing the lubricating oil. LPG therefore extends the life of the oil and decreases engine wear. In addition to this the clean burning properties of LPG extend the life of spark plugs.
  • LPG is good for the environment it contains no lead and produces less carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and particulate matter.

Is it safe to use a domestic exchange cylinder for an Autogas supply?

In general the answer is no. The reasons are listed below:

  • Domestic cylinders are generally not properly secured into the vehicle and this makes them vulnerable in a crash situation.
  • The domestic cylinder valve arrangement is incorrect for the proper operation of the vehicle fuel supply requirements.
    • The cylinder valve is not provided with excess flow protection, which means that if the valve or supply line is sheared in a crash situation, there will be an uncontrolled flow of LPG into the vehicle interior.
    • The domestic cylinder valves and the attachments which are typically being used to connect domestic cylinders into vehicles are generally not designed to operate under liquid LPG condition and therefore may not be suitable for the use which is being applied.
    • The interior of a vehicle can become very hot in some climates. This means that there is a potential for the safety relief valve of the cylinder to open and release excess pressure, again creating a safety hazard within the interior of the vehicle.
    • In some cases the cylinders are not provided with a safety valve. The flexible connection between the cylinder and the steel line to the engine forms a weak link in the piping system and is therefore vulnerable to rupture, leading to LPG entering the vehicle space.
    • The design of the gas converter or gas regulator, installed within the engine space that provides fuel to the engine, is generally designed to take liquid LPG and convert it to vapor LPG. Usually a small bore copper or steel line is used to transfer the LPG from the cylinder in the rear of the vehicle to the engine. This is because domestic cylinders are installed into the rear of the vehicle in an upright or lying-on-the-side position.
    • In both the above cases, only vapor gets transferred from the cylinder to the engine. This is because the cylinder does not have an internal tube that takes the liquid LPG from the cylinder into the supply line to the engine. Due to this, the engine gets starved for fuel during increased load conditions like accelerating or climbing up a slope.

When a vehicle is dual fuelled, (LPG & petrol), is there likely to be any reduction in fuel efficiency?

It depends on the technology involved, but generally when a engine is dual fuelled it is likely that it will not be optimized to operate on both fuels, the engine will be tuned to run somewhere between the best performance for both fuels.

Will I lose any performance by changing over to LPG?

You should not lose any performance by changing your vehicle over to LPG. However, a vehicle operating on LPG will use approximately 20% to 30% more fuel than petrol on a volume basis. This increased usage is generally more than offset the lower price of LPG compared to petrol.

Will changing over to LPG effect any warranty provided by the vehicle manufacturer?

Most vehicle manufacturers recognize the viability of LPG as an automotive fuel and continue to maintain the warranty on engines properly converted to LPG use where the installation and equipment meet all local standards. If there is any doubt check with the vehicle manufacturer or vehicle agent.

What are the benefits of operating forklift vehicles on LPG?

Firstly, the stop start nature of the forklift operation makes the use of LPG a favourite with forklift users, where the cold start and short running of these vehicles produces excessive engine wear. Secondly, the other benefit of operating these vehicles on LPG is the reduction of the exhaust gas emissions compared to diesel and petrol fuelled vehicles. In the generally enclosed environment that forklifts vehicles operate in, emission reduction plays an important part in the health of the workers and improved environmental hygiene, reducing the potential of damage to sensitive products. However it should be remembered that proper ventilation must still be maintained and that the general reduction of exhaust emissions does not preclude the necessity to provide a safe operating and well ventilated working environment.

What other vehicles can be converted to operate on LPG?

Are there any hazards in using liquefied petroleum gas?

Liquefied petroleum gas is a flammable gas which has the potential to create a hazard. Therefore it is important that the properties and safe handling of LPG are understood and applied in the domestic and commercial/industrial situations.

  • Liquefied petroleum gas is stored under pressure. The gas will leak from any joint or connection which is not sealed properly.
  • Liquefied petroleum gas is heavier than air. Any significant leak will move downwards and stay on the ground. LPG will accumulate in any low-lying area such as depressions in the ground, drains or pits.
  • Since LPG is stored in two phases, liquid and gaseous, there is potential for either a liquid leak or a gas leak.
    • If the Liquefied petroleum gas leak is a gas leak it may not be seen (because LPG is colourless), except where the leak is of sufficient size to be seen shimmering in the air.
    • When a liquid Liquefied petroleum gas leak occurs, the gas release will be seen as a patch of ice around the area of the leak, or as a jet of white liquid. This white appearance is due to the cooling effect created by the rapid expansion of the LPG liquid into a gas. The condensing atmospheric moisture makes the leak visible.
    • In concentrated amounts and in uncontrolled conditions, Liquefied petroleum gas has the potential to create a fire or an explosion.

How can I reduce my consumption of LPG?

There are a number ways in which you can greatly reduce LPG consumption and thus help the overall conservation of LPG:

  • When you are cooking, first keep all your ingredients ready before lighting the burner. This will help you to lower LPG consumption.
  • Save LPG by covering all vessels that you place on the burner. Covered vessels cook faster and retain the flavors of the food, while conserving LPG at the same time.
  • If there is a break in cooking, turn the LPG off and then relight the burner to begin cooking again. Over time, this can result in a significant reduction in the usage of LPG.
  • Use same-sized vessels and burners. For example, use a small burner for a small vessel. This will help to reduce the volume of LPG used.
  • Avoid wasting LPG by re-heating food.
  • Reduce the quantity of liquid used. The more the liquid content, the more LPG required to cook it.

How can I use LPG safely?

You can use LPG safely if you apply simple safety rules.

  • Choose an LPG supplier who can provide you with well-maintained LPG cylinders, and after-sales support.
  • Always close the cylinder or tanks valves after use.
  • Use a child-safe regulator on the LPG cylinder for domestic use.
  • Ensure that your LPG supplier provides a supply of LPG that is odorised to allow you to smell any leaking LPG.
  • Always use LPG appliances, and other gas equipment that is approved for use, and meets all local safety standards.
  • Check for gas leaks on a regular basis.
  • Always use LPG rubber tubes that have an ISI mark.
  • Always close the LPG cylinder or tanks valves after use.
  • Never check for gas leaks using a lit match. Always use a solution of soapy water and look for bubbles coming from around valves and pipe joints. These bubbles indicate a gas leak.
  • Replace the LPG cylinder hose on a regular basis, and replace any damaged or worn hose with a new hose.
  • Stand the cylinder upright and make sure that any hose connection between the cylinder and the appliance does not come into contact with or near the gas burner.
  • If you smell or find a gas leak
    • Turn off the gas supply valve from the cylinder of the tank.
    • If possible turn off the appliance.
    • Turn off or remove any other source of ignition.
    • Ventilate the room by opening doors and windows.
    • Inform your gas supplier immediately.
    • Leave the house or apartment, and advise your neighbours.
    • If you think that there is a danger of a fire, call the Fire Service.

Is it safe to use a domestic exchange cylinder for an Autogas supply?

In general the answer is no. The reasons are listed below:

  • Domestic cylinders are generally not properly secured into the vehicle and this makes them vulnerable in a crash situation.
  • The domestic cylinder valve arrangement is incorrect for the proper operation of the vehicle fuel supply requirements.
    • The cylinder valve is not provided with excess flow protection, which means that if the valve or supply line is sheared in a crash situation, there will be an uncontrolled flow of LPG into the vehicle interior.
    • The domestic cylinder valves and the attachments which are typically being used to connect domestic cylinders into vehicles are generally not designed to operate under liquid LPG condition and therefore may not be suitable for the use which is being applied.
    • The interior of a vehicle can become very hot in some climates. This means that there is a potential for the safety relief valve of the cylinder to open and release excess pressure, again creating a safety hazard within the interior of the vehicle.
    • In some cases the cylinders are not provided with a safety valve. The flexible connection between the cylinder and the steel line to the engine forms a weak link in the piping system and is therefore vulnerable to rupture, leading to LPG entering the vehicle space.

The design of the gas converter or gas regulator, installed within the engine space that provides fuel to the engine, is generally designed to take liquid LPG and convert it to vapour LPG. Usually a small bore copper or steel line is used to transfer the Liquefied petroleum gas from the cylinder in the rear of the vehicle to the engine. This is because domestic cylinders are installed into the rear of the vehicle in an upright or lying-on-the-side position.

In both the above cases, only vapour gets transferred from the cylinder to the engine. This is because the cylinder does not have an internal tube that takes the liquid Liquefied petroleum gas from the cylinder into the supply line to the engine. Due to this, the engine gets starved for fuel during increased load conditions like accelerating or climbing up a slope.