New LPG system promises mpg improvement of up to 15%

Field trials of a new system that injects small amounts of LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) into a diesel engine are about to start, potentially offering mpg improvements mooted to be around 15%.

The government’s Technology Strategy Board (TSB) last year awarded a £92,000 ‘proof of concept’ grant to Frome-based vehicle monitoring equipment supplier Btrack. It was to support a project to “evaluate the potential for a highly cost effective control system to manage the amount of a second fuel added to the air intake of a diesel engine.”

Speaking at a meeting of the British Transport Advisory Consortium last week, well-known fuel efficiency consultant Dr Michael Coyle revealed that the second fuel is LPG.  Coyle, initially engaged to analyse the project’s fuel data, said he has since bought into the commercial development of the system, branded Easi-LPG.

Unlike other diesel/LPG systems, the amount of LPG added to the diesel is so small that Coyle says it is “LPG enhancement” rather than dual-fuel. A single tank containing just 45kg of fuel and weighing 65kg all-up is sufficient for a week’s operation of a typical truck, he says.

LPG has a lower energy content than diesel, but Coyle says the Easi-LPG system “enhances the combustion of the diesel and increases energy release.” The LPG is injected into the engine’s air intake upstream of the turbocharger. Injection management is reckoned to be unique, and does not interfere with an engine’s ECU (electronic control unit).

Testing of a diesel-engined van on a chassis dynamometer indicated a 20% uplift in torque. Coyle conservatively suggests this would translate into an mpg improvement of 15.5%.

On that basis, Coyle says the system, which costs £5,000 fitted to a 6x2 tractor unit, pays for itself within 12 months on a typical 44-tonner covering 80,000 miles (129,000km) annually. CO2 savings are expected to be broadly in line with the fuel savings, with even bigger reductions in particulates and NOx claimed.

Emissions testing takes place in February, followed in March by the start of in-service trials of six trucks run by six different operators. “It’s a very simple system, which keeps costs down and reduces the chance of failures,” said Coyle. “It looks very promising at this stage but we’re not saying too much until we finish testing in October.”  

Manheim ramping up Leeds into a used truck contender

Back in the day there were only a handful of public truck auctions on the calendar worth their salt. Commercial Vehicle Auctions, better known as CVA, led the way as the country’s foremost independent truck auction, and both Fleet Auction Group (FLAG) and Malcolm Harrison provided stiff competition. And then there was Manheim; its truck sales at Colchester and Leeds were integral to that calendar.

It would be harsh to say both Colchester and Leeds fell by the wayside but they have certainly struggled to match its competitors. CVA, FLAG, and the FLAG-owned ProTruck Auctions, have dominated in recent times.  

Well, Manheim is looking to reintroduce the Leeds site as a frontrunner. Last year it held a successful one-off sale with Volvo Trucks, and it’s pushing the online Manheim Bid or Buy Now auction hard.

This Thursday (6 March 2014) is a significant step in that direction with more than 120 trucks up before the gavel in a branded sale; names include Hitachi Capital Commercial Vehicles, Royal Mail, Co-op and Brakes Group.

James Davis, director of CVs at Manheim, says the sale will mainly consist of direct de-fleeted stock. “This will be followed by a further selection of trucks grouped in a ‘direct fleet branded sale section’ from the UK’s leading contract hire, lease, owner-operator and local authority fleets.”

He says: “By grouping smaller volume entries together the impact is maximised, he explained. It engages the buyer and sustains the momentum of the sale.”

The branded sale concept will be rolled out to four other sites at Colchester, Gloucester, Glasgow and Washington.