Would LPG fuel work in SA? Read on, you decide

⦁ LPG taxis just a hail away from London streets
⦁ TX2 taxi in final phase of city’s assessment
⦁ Birmingham introduced more than 60 LPG taxis

NEW MEANING TO 'FILLING UP WITH GAS': The essentials of converting a petrol/diesel car to run on liquefied petroleum gas. Image: Google
NEW MEANING TO ‘FILLING UP WITH GAS’: The essentials of converting a petrol/diesel car to run on liquefied petroleum gas. Image: Google

LONDON, England – Cleaner, less-emissions, taxis could soon be cruising the streets of the British capital now that a company called Autogas claims it’s close to completing its liquefied petroleum (aka LPG or propane) gas assessment.

The idea is to get rid of diesel-powered taxis – suddenly demonised as serious air-polluters after enjoying a period of “hey, the latest diesel fuel is very clean” – and reduce nitrogen oxide pollution by “re-powering taxis to burn LPG instead”.

Having recently completed the penultimate stage of the approval process from Transport for London, which included extensive technical and emission assessments at MIRA, an Autogas LPG-powered taxi is said to be “starting its final 16 000km technology assessment” in that city to run under the same conditions and typical driving cycles it would if put into service.

READ ABOUT SA’s attempt to launch LPG cars

Paul Oxford, Autogas’ business development manager, told The Corner in a media release: “This final phase is significant for our TX2 cab and brings closer the prospect of LPG taxis on the streets of London which, like many other cities and towns across the UK, has a major air-quality problem.” (continues)

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He blames this bad air on NOx emissions and particulate matter from diesel vehicles. Particulates are inhaled and can cause lung problems; NOx is said to be a major element in creating low-level atmospheric ozone.

READ A REVIEW of a week with an LPG car – fuel consumption, performance, refuelling.

The Autogas webpage says a diesel engine produces 1.2 times the particulates of an LPG engine and 20 times the NOx. A fuel consumption test in the UK showed 11.4 litres/100km for gas, 9.26 litres/100 for petrol.

Oxford also brings money into the equation – always a game-changer in the fuel game! – by claiming LPG as a vehicle fuel instead of diesel, “will not only help to improve local air quality but also extend the usable life of a London cab by five years and cut its average monthly fuel bill by as much as R3400 a month. (Apl 2017 pound/rand conversion).

“It really is a win-win situation for everybody.”

Read more data published by Autogas.

Autogas, though, being politically correct, acknowledges that electric taxis will be the ultimate solution, LPG a stopgap. The company’s plan is to replace taxi diesel engines with a General Motors’ two-litre petrol engine converted to burn LPG and, it’s claimed, “reduce harmful NOx emissions by 80% and particulate matter by 99%”.

A Google check further tells The Corner that it’s not so much an engine conversion (a petrol engine can run on either) as the requirement for a high-pressure 60kg gas vessel and that the cost of LPG (about half that of diesel in the UK) will be offset by higher fuel consumption.

SEE HOW YOUR boot space is compromised by the tank

It also tells us that burning LPG produces less carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide in its exhaust but that an LPG fuel tank weighs about 60kg; also, more than 100 000 cars and light vans already use LPG in the UK.

The Autogas test taxi will, it’s explained, run double-shifts around the clock, “similar to many taxis in normal operation, only without fee-paying passengers”. It didn’t explain whether passengers would be carried at all – an important factor, The Corner believes, in fuel consumption.

OTHER CITIES ALREADY RUNNING LPG TAXIS

The 16 000km test over, the car will return to MIRA (the Motor Industry Research Association) for final testing and approval before being offered to the capital’s cab moguls.

Autogas’ Oxford added: ““If successful, London will follow Birmingham (another among England’s largest cities) which has already introduced more than 60 LPG taxis. I’m sure many other towns will be watching.”

Autogas is a joint Shell and Calor venture established in 2000 to make automotive LPG more readily available. It has LPG fuel facilities on 215 (presumably Shell) fuel forecourts the length of Britain.

The average price of diesel fuel in Britain in January 2016 was about (Apl 2017 rand/sterling conversion) R17/litre, LPG about half that.

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