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Dual-fuel solutions

  • Posted On: 7 December 2016
  • Number of views: 2917
As natural gas-diesel conversions fall ever so slightly from grace, dual-fuel liquefied petroleum gas looks like its surprise replacement. Brian Tinham from Transport Engineer magazine explains

Just as diesel and L/CNG (liquefied/compressed natural gas) heavy-duty truck engine conversions look uncomfortably likely to be consigned to the history books, so another dual-fuel technology pops out of the woodwork. And from a slightly surprising quarter, being none other than LPG (liquefied petroleum gas). Surprising only because it’s been around for decades in the automotive sector, and has seen marginal uptake with HGVs in dual-fuel (with diesel) guise. However, offering limited green credentials, it hasn’t enjoyed serious attention.

Until now. All that is changing for four main reasons. First, so-called bio-LPG is now scheduled to start arriving in serious bulk on these shores next spring, and that completely changes its carbon saving potential. Second, although it’s still early days, LPG-diesel Euro 6 engine conversions are increasingly proven and available. And third, they’re much lower cost than their L/CNG dual-fuel counterparts (circa [£6000]- £8,000 versus £24,000 respectively), meaning much faster payback.

But fourth, incentives may yet be in the offing. Why? Because, in the wake of last month’s High Court ruling in favour of environmental activists ClientEarth (not being appealed), the government is mandated to accelerate efforts to tackle air pollution. And as the finger of blame points largely at transport’s emissions, low-NOx-emitting LPG now presents one of the most realistic, speedy and cost-effective solutions on the table.

Quite simply, with some 1,400 LPG refuelling forecourts already established across England and Wales, the lead time and government investment implications are minimal. Compare that to L/CNG or an electric charging infrastructure. Couple that with £6,000-£8,000 conversions, and you have a much cheaper and quicker fix than, for example, a heavy-duty vehicle scrappage scheme in favour of Euro 6. Indeed, bioLPG has already been included within the government’s RTFO (renewable transport fuel obligation) scheme so will be covered by the RTFC certification regime. 

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