What’s Happening With LPG Injection? LOTS!

What’s Happening With LPG Injection? LOTS!

Burkett, Randy

UP FRONT ON AUTO PROPANE

This is an exciting time for the auto propane industry. During the previous two to three years quite a few LPG injection systems have been introduced. Their importance cannot be underestimated.

Industry has been anxiously waiting for these products due to the problems experienced with core technology in the 1990s and early part of this century. Another point of interest is a change in the B149.5 regulations allowing the importing of systems that are certified to the Euro ECE-67R-01 standard, provided they are tested to -40°C.

The ECE-67R-01 is a standard of tests similar to the UL, ULC or CGA standards that North American products must meet. These systems can be used in provinces that have adopted the B149.5 code, without any provincial amendments or revisions. In some cases, a province may pass a revision to this rule, however, it is difficult to foresee why it would. European products have been around as long as their North American counterparts and they too have excellent safety and emission records.

Auto manufacturers are also showing an increased interest in LPG now that reliable systems are being produced. Statements such as the one by Mitsibushi in July 2007 are becoming more common – Mitsubishi Motors Australia launched a factory-backed LPG autogas option for its new 380 Series III sedan (see www.unigas.com.au/resources/25_07_07.pdf for more). In addition, companies such as Ford and GM will offer LPG platforms sold and serviced by their own dealerships (more information can be found further on in this article).

Some of the key systems are from major companies known throughout the world, including IMPCO/BRC (Sequent 56), ECO Fuel systems (EDI), Vialle (LPI), Prins of America (VSI), Clean Fuels USA (LPI), Roush (Ford F150, Liquid Injection), Baytec (installed on a North American popular courier service) and others. These systems are currently sold in North America, Europe, Australia, England, Turkey and other countries. Many of the systems originated in either Holland or Italy, and then were refined for use on the larger engines used in the USA, Canada and Australia.

LPG injection kits include all the components needed to convert an engine, such as an LPG computer, injectors, fuel rails, vapourizer (pressure regulator), lock-off and filter assembly, wiring harness and sensors. LPG injection systems incorporate the use of the OEM computer to control the LPG system.

Many Advantages

The OEM computer performs its normal duties of monitoring the engine operation and changing fuel delivery and timing to maximize the engine operation no matter which fuel is being used. When the engine is running on propane, the OEM instructions are sent through the LPG computer to change LPG fuel levels as instructed. The LPG computer changes the amount of fuel delivered to satisfy the OEM computer. Using this method the OEM computer has complete control of the LPG system and no false check engine lights occur.

The LPG injection uses individual injectors for each cylinder, the same as the OEM gasoline system. This ensures proper fuel distribution and eliminates the possibility of intake manifold backfires, which were a common problem for 1996 and newer vehicles using core equipment. Backfires contributed to significant maintenance costs and made owners reluctant to convert.

The new injection systems are more expensive than core equipment, however, they are more trouble-free. Popular injection systems like the IMPCO BRC Sequent 56 have specially designed injectors to ensure long life even if the local LPG supply is not perfect. The computers are ruggedly designed to withstand shock and vibration. Programs are adaptable to most of the vehicles produced today. The computers and other components can usually be transferred to future vehicles and re-flashed to adapt to the newer vehicles. Most, but not all of the injection systems, start on gasoline and switch to propane when they reach a specified temperature or period of time on gasoline. This is usually one to two minutes on a cold engine and only a few seconds on warm engines. The switchover is smooth and frequently not noticed by the operator.

The IMPCO BRC system uses a timed switchover that switches one injector every three injection cycles. In other words, the switchover can take several seconds while the engine runs on both gasoline and LPG for a few seconds. This method ensures no stalls while switching to LPG or to gasoline. The systems, which are also protected in the event of fuel pressure loss, automatically switch to gasoline if the vehicle runs out of LPG or if the demand of the larger engines momentarily exceeds the LPG regulators’ ability to supply adequate fuel pressures.

For example, some of the larger engines, such as the 8.1L GM engine in large trucks, demand substantial amounts of fuel when hauling heavy loads and climbing steep grades. It is possible to experience a pressure drop in this condition. The injection system will just switch to gasoline until the LPG system recovers pressure and then switch to LPG once the load decreases. In most cases, the driver is informed visually or audibly of each occurrence. The driver may have to manually switch the vehicle to gasoline and back to propane to reset the visual or audible warning system, or the system may be automatic such as the BRC Sequent 56.

Another advantage of the vapour injection systems, besides eliminating mechanical problems and false check engine lights, is that most of them use the same tank designs as the older core equipment. Most of the vapour injection systems do not require fuel pumps for the propane system unlike liquid injection systems.

Exciting Times for Automotive Enthusiasts Many of the systems are vapour injection, but there are some really neat ones being designed for specific applications. One of the most exciting, for automotive enthusiasts, is the Roush Ford F150.

This is a high-performance truck with a dedicated liquid injection system, using a 5.4L with three valves per cylinder. There is no loss of horsepower from the gasoline version. The truck will soon begin construction on the normal Ford assembly line, but once it reaches the fuel system retrofit, it will be routed to a special line for the LPG injection system installation and then routed back to the Ford line for final assembly. This ensures the vehicle receives the same quality checks as a gasoline unit. It will be EPA-50 state certified. The truck will be available with a 20-gallon tororidal tank or 50-gallon in-bed tank (much more information can be found at www.rousch-performance.com/f150.shtml).

Clean Fuel USA has also introduced an LPI system for the following platforms, including propane delivery vehicles, school buses, utility vehicles, shuttle buses, beverage vehicles and freight delivery vehicles. While the system was originally designed by ICOM in Europe, Clean Fuels spent substantial time and money developing the system to fit North American vehicles and engines. At this time the system is going through EPA testing for emission certification.

Baytec, a company out of San Francisco, is supplying one of the major courier companies with a new system. Limited information is available, however, it will be serviced and sold through authorized GM dealers. The platforms include GM Topkick and Kodiak C4500 /5500/6500/7500/8500 Series, mediumduty trucks and cab/chassis C2500/3500 with 8.1L engines.

It is expected that more information will be released shortly on many of these new systems. Price points have to be established and dealers need to be appointed and trained.

The initial penetration will be in the more highly populated markets. The aftermarket suppliers are currently busy training the propane installers on their systems. Check with the dealers in your area to see if they have introduced their systems yet.

Finally, LPG injection is injecting much-needed life into the propane industry.

Randy Burkett, who started in the industry in 1981 as a kit installer for ICG Propane in Winnipeg, later progressed to the Sales and Technical department.-In 1987, he took a position as the National Technical Representative at ICG, training and supporting company techs and developing training courses. When ICG quit the conversion part of the business in 1992, Randy joined RNG Interquip as the General Manager of its Alternate Fuels Division in Calgary. In February 2000, he joined Proquip Sales Inc., a national sales company distributing IMPCO/BRC equipment and products for conversions Canadawide. Proquip is one of the only companies that continues to offer technical support for the producti it distributes. At Proquip, Trevor Duffield ind Randy continue to research the market for LPG injection systems and are ecstatic that IMPCO BRC has come to the market with a great LPG Injection System for their customers. In 2006, Randy returned to Winnipeg and continues to provide support as a representative of Proquip Sales Inc. for its complete lines of product, including the new IMPCO BRC Sequent 56 Injection System.

Copyright Northern Star Communications Ltd. Sep/Oct 2007

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