What is autogas?
LPG is an immediately available low carbon alternative. Indeed, it emits 35% less CO2 than coal and 12% less than oil. It also emits almost no black carbon, arguably the second biggest contributor to global warming.
LPG offers significant environmental advantages, particularly in terms of indoors and outdoor air quality. It is characterized by low particle emissions, low NOx (nitrogen oxide) emissions and low sulphur content.
less CO2 than gasoline
less NOx than gasoline
fewer particles than diesel
What is LPG used for?
LPG can be used in several different sectors, such as domestic, commercial, industrial, agricultural and for transportation. Wherever heat, light or power is required, LPG can offer its benefits to both end-users and society as a whole.
LPG in transportations
Automotive LPG or Autogas is the most accessible alternative fuel. Driving an LPG vehicle is safe, easy and, in many countries, considerably cheaper than driving a petrol or diesel model.
Autogas is the abridged name for automotive liquefied petroleum gas (LP Gas, or LPG) – that is, LP Gas used as an automotive transport fuel. Autogas is today the most accepted alternative fuel in the automotive sector with more than 23 million vehicles operating worldwide.
The added value of LPG as an automotive fuel is that it generates considerably fewer engine emissions than other fossil fuels, contributing to the protection of the environment and human health while also mitigating the threat of climate change.
LPG goes far beyond providing cars with a clean fuel alternative. Autogas also powers ATVs, trucks, golf carts, three-wheelers, fork lift trucks and street cleaning vehicles.
LPG is used also on the water to power small recreational crafts and large ships as well as in the air, with hot air balloons end even small aircrafts using this exceptional energy source.
Autogas for automotive
LPG (Autogas) when used for automotive purposes, is a true alternative to traditional fuels. Fast and economical to switch to, it is a clean, environmentally friendly option. These features have made Autogas the most widely used alternative fuel in the world. Over 23 million drivers, have already chosen it for their vehicle and it is the most widely used alternative fuel in the world, just behind gasoline and diesel.
It is an environmentally friendly fuel that does not emit polluting particles and it also reduces noise pollution in towns and cities.
Autogas in many countries costs around half the price of petrol or diesel enabling businesses and individual to save significantly on their running costs, in addition to the environmental benefits. Driving an LPG vehicle is safe, easy and, efficient compared to diesel or petrol vehicles. Environment wise, it constitutes a great option emitting less CO2 to the atmosphere aiding the efforts against global warming, reduction of carbon foot print while allowing for financial gains.
History of autogas
The history of Autogas begins in the mid 1930’s, LPG had been discovered in Germany only a few years earlier as a condensate when compressing refinery off-gas to extract gasoil. It was being sold in cylinders as propane and butane or as a less refined mixture of both components.
Countries with a low supply of oil like England and Germany began experimenting with alternative fuels in search of alternatives to fuel their growing car fleets. Ultimately striving for self-reliance, no option was to be left untested. Among others, experiments were conducted with natural gas (methane) and LPG.
In 1934 Germany kicked off a programme to increase independence from oil imports. The following year in 1935 several alternatively fuelled vehicles (three diesel, one each fuelled with methane, LPG and methanol as well as two steam powered) were presented at the international automobile fair in Berlin. By 1942 Autogas systems had becoming very popular due to the scarcity of conventional fuels. The supply of LPG was plentiful: As aviation grade and other liquid fuels were being synthesised from lignite, considerable volumes of LPG were co-synthesised. Unlike in other markets, German Autogas consumption was about 50 times higher than what was delivered to households for cooking.
These first generation systems were developed for spark ignition engines and heavy duty diesel engines (dual fuel). The liquefied fuel stored in cylinders or fixed tanks is fed in liquid phase to a converter which vaporises the fuel and regulates the pressure to a set value. The gas is then fed into a mixer located in front of the throttle valve at the beginning of the intake system. The mixer restricts the diameter of the intake accelerating the flow of air at the narrowest point thus locally reducing the pressure. The mixture composition is regulated through the interaction between the regulated pressure and the amount of air flowing through the venturi. Manual adjustments can be made to ensure satisfying operation across the entire speed and load ranges. The system is entirely mechanically operated and has very few moving parts. Slightly more complex systems, relying on a diaphragm to regulate the gas flow depending on manifold pressure were developed in the US.
The technical solutions elaborated in those years set the reference for decades to come. The simple technology spread to other countries and was used in the south of France and in Italy (with both LPG and natural gas). Its main principles are still used today on carburetted engines, like those found on motor scooters or in generators. Even the advent of electronically controlled carburettors and early fuel injection systems did not change the robust and reliable technology.
Modern emissions, electronic controls
Stricter emission standards forced the widespread introduction of three-way catalysts in the exhaust system of every car. The mixture needed to be monitored more precisely in order to maintain the air-fuel ratio needed for correct catalyst operation with on-board diagnostics systems (EOBD) monitoring the quality of combustion. Electronic controls were added to venturi systems to enable finer adjustments to the mixture needed for correct operation of the catalyst. This formed the second generation of developments.
Because the risk of a backfire dramatically increases with longer intakes and larger plenums, venturi systems are less suited for these more modern types of engines. Later iterations did away with the mixer altogether and delivered the fuel directly before the intake of each cylinder. Apart from mitigating the backfire risk, these systems were much more precise in terms of fuel distribution and the loss of power normally associated with Autogas could be reduced drastically. These constant flow injection systems of the third generation were equipped with a variable valve controlled by the electronics to regulate the flow. The completely independent electronics include their own timing tables for the injection and drive the car independent of the original electronics.
Because the technology around fuel delivery of the base petrol engines has developed over the years that Autogas has been used, there are several types of systems which have evolved. The three most popular Autogas system types are the following.
Also known as converter and mixer or vacuum type systems. These are mechanically the simplest and can be made to work without any electronics. They consist of the three basic elements: fuel tank, converter (vaporiser/regulator) and mixer. While no longer conforming to the newest emissions regulations they can still be used to convert older carburetted vehicles or machinery.
Vapour sequential injection systems
Inject the fuel in the gaseous phase but align the gas injections to what the original electronic gasoline controls of the car command. These fully sequential systems achieve the latest emissions stages.
Liquid injection systems
Exactly replicate gasoline systems and inject the fuel in the liquid phase without prior vaporisation. This enables more precise metering of the fuel and an injection timed to the opening of the intake valves.