Autogas - LPG
Autogas and LPG in Cars
LPG or Autogas cars use Liquefied Petroleum Gas which is a mixture of hydrocarbons as a fuel. When LPG is used as a fuel in internal combustion engines in vehicles, it is called Autogas. Autogas cars are green fuel cars with good energy efficiency and minimum pollution. The main system components of a LPG fuel powered car are fuel tank, filler, valves, pipes, hoses and fittings, converters, mixer, injectors and electrical and electronic controls. The filler is used to fuel transfer the liquid Autogas into the vehicle tank. The tanks come in various shapes depending on the model of the car and purpose of usage. Some Autogas cars come with multiple fuel tanks. The converter converts the fuel in liquid form to vapor at atmospheric pressures which is then delivered to mixer or injectors.
Type of fuels used
Autogas or LPG fuel is obtained as a by-product of distillation of oil from crude oil. It is a gas at room temperature, but is generally compressed to high pressures and stored in liquid form. Autogas has higher octane content compared to gasoline.
The performance of Autogas Cars
Many cars come with Autogas fuelling systems. Various Autogas kits are available to convert a fossil fuel driven car to an Autogas vehicle. The performance of these cars are found to be the same or better compared to the gasoline powered vehicles. Autogas cars achieve better energy efficiency and same speed compared to conventionally fuelled cars. The only slight difference in performance of Autogas fuelled cars compared to diesel and gasoline powered ones is in the top speed and acceleration times achieved.
Pros and cons of the fuel
The combustion of Autogas is smoother because of its higher octane content. They do not contain any lead components and so do not leave any residue on combustion. Compared to gasoline and diesel fuels, Autogas exhaust contains very less harmful substances. There are no acids and carbon deposits and so the life of the Autogas or LPG fuel engine is almost twice as that using other fuels. The Autogas engines are subjected to very less wear and tear due to the minimal quantity of carbon produced on burning. There are no problems like cold starting with an Autogas powered car engine. The possibilities for fuel theft are completely avoided with Autogas. The Autogas car engines produce very less noise making them more environmental friendly. They offer excellent safety in terms of transportation, storage and use. The Autogas produces the lowest amount of greenhouse gases compared to other fossil fuels.
The output power capacity of an Autogas powered engine depends on the ability of the converter to deliver stable flow of vapor. A coolant temperature less than the desired one can affect the performance negatively.
Autogas Use in different countries
Almost all countries have invested in developing and using Autogas car systems. Italy has the maximum number of Autogas powered vehicles on the road followed by Mexico, North America and Netherlands. Most of the taxis in Japan are powered by Autogas. The number of vehicles running on Autogas or LPG is increasing everyday. Many countries support the conversion of conventional fuel powered cars to Autogas powered ones considering the severe pollution problems created by the former. In India the use of LPG fuel to power a car is widely increasing due to its energy efficiency and low maintenance cost. Currently many of the global players in car making industry are producing dual fuel cars capable of running in petrol and Autogas or LPG. Some of these manufactures are Ford, Fiat, Toyoto, Volvo, Maruti Suzuki, Renault and Volkswagen. Third party systems for converting gasoline fuel cars to Autogas powered ones are also widely available in the market. Different countries have different regulations that ensure complete safety of operation of the Autogas cars.
Environmental benefits of Autogas Cars
Autogas cars emit 20% less carbon dioxide than their petrol counterparts. This helps in reducing the chances for global warming. Similarly Autogas cars emit very less quantity of Nitric Oxide. The sound pollution is minimized with Autogas powered cars as they produce very less sound compared to a diesel engine. There is no risk of water or ground contamination in case of a fuel spill, as the Autogas will evaporate very quickly leaving nothing behind. As the LPG fuel is found naturally as a by-product of gas extraction, their production does not result in any environmental imbalance. Autogas cars are found to emit only 120 times lesser fine particles compared to diesel fuel. Autogas does not contain heavy metals like cadmium, nickel, arsenic and mercury which are present in petrol and diesel. Autogas contains only very less amount of sulfur. The most practical solution to avoid harmful emissions from a car is to convert it into Autogas powered one.
Reliability of Autogas Cars
Converting a fossil fuel powered car into an Autogas powered car is very easy. Autogas kits are available which can be easily integrated with the car to offer a highly energy efficient fuel system. As the Autogas engine runs very smoothly, there is hardly any wear and tear. This reduces the maintenance cost to a good extend. The autogas kits installed should be checked or serviced at regular intervals. One major factor that affects the maintenance of these vehicles is the fuel storage and delivery systems. The fuel tank and the pressure regulators should be monitored on a regular basis. As the combustion of Autogas does not produce any residue, these engines have a longer life and require very less maintenance.
Cost of the fuel
Autogas or LPG fuel is one of the most inexpensive fuels available. They offer significant economic benefits. The fuel cost is less than half compared to gasoline and diesel fuels. As the engines using the Autogas as fuel offer better mileage, the cost per mile is very less compared to other fuels. Once the initial cost in setting up of the conversion system is met, no further maintenance cost is required for a long interval in the case of Autogas or LPG fuel cars.
Autogas Tax benefits in the UK
The development of Autogas powered cars is encouraged through lower fuel duties and cheaper car tax. A large number of councils in the UK are stepping forward to popularize the usage of Autogas cars by offering discounted car parking. The UK government supports LPG or Autogas through financial as well as non-monetary means. They endorse the use of Autogas by offering tax reduction. Being a domestic product, the UK government always supports the usage of Autogas. On notifying the authorities regarding the Autogas conversion, the user enjoys a considerable reduction in the Vehicle Excise Duty. The amount of Vehicle Excise Duty is calculated based on the carbon emissions of the vehicle.
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