Propane Education & Research Council Awards $1.39 Million Research Grant

The Propane Education & Research Council announced the award of a $1.39 million research grant to the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) to study propane fuel system technologies and their ability to meet Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2007 standards for large spark-ignited (LSI) non-road engines. The study will begin immediately with initial results expected at the end of 2003.

New regulations published by the EPA in November 2002 are scheduled to take effect in 2004. In 2007, the regulations will require transient cycle testing for certification and compliance with significantly lower emissions limits. The research grant will investigate three propane engine fuel system technologies to evaluate their ability to meet EPA 2007 standards, with a comprehensive analysis of the effects of propane fuel composition on emissions and engine performance.

"Propane has a long and valued history with the lift truck industry," said Roy Willis, president of the Propane Education & Research Council. "This grant is the largest single research project ever authorized by the Council for any technology. It demonstrates both the propane industry's commitment to the lift truck market and its proactive efforts to ensure that propane continues to be one of the cleanest and most cost-effective fuels for lift trucks."

The research effort has five objectives:

• Investigate closed-loop carburetion, central fuel injection, and port fuel injection technologies and evaluate their ability to meet EPA 2007 LSI engine standards;

• Explore the effects of LPG fuel quality variation on emissions deterioration to establish fuel composition needed to ensure adequate engine and emissions performance in lift truck applications with respect to the EPA 5,000-hour durability requirement;

• Investigate the effect of LPG sulfur levels on lift truck catalyst performance;

• Investigate the effectiveness of fuel additives on fuel system durability and emissions deterioration; and

• Investigate the effectiveness of filters and/or oil separators.

"The advent of emissions regulations already in effect in California, which have been finalized by the EPA for nationwide applicability, make this research project especially important and timely," said Bill Montwieler, executive director of the Industrial Truck Association (ITA). "As manufacturers of industrial trucks and their components and attachments, ITA members are vitally interested in this project, which promises to advance the state of knowledge in this important area of propane quality and consistency."

Southwest Research Institute was selected from a field of five organizations that competed for the grant. "The Southwest Research team has extensive experience in engine technology generally and propane engines specifically," said Willis.

The Council president also cited the role that members of the Southwest Research team had in the development of data used by the EPA in the creation of 2007 standards. "Their track record in performing propane engine research and development for the lift truck industry and CARB enabled Southwest Research to attract significant in-kind contributions by engine, fuel system and catalyst manufacturers, as well as support from the Industrial Truck Association," Willis said.

"The Southwest Research Institute is honored to have been chosen by the Council," said Vlad Ulmet, SwRI's principal engineer. "We will work closely with the Council, the propane industry, and all lift truck industry principals to generate useful information that addresses propane engine and emissions performance for propane lift truck engine fuel system technologies."

The Propane Education & Research Council was authorized by the U.S. Congress with the passage of Public Law 104-284, the Propane Education and Research Act (PERA), signed into law on October 11, 1996. The mission of the Propane Education & Research Council is to promote the safe, efficient use of odorized propane gas as a preferred energy source.

For more information, visit www.propanecouncil.org.

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