Wednesday, April 23, 2014

ACT Expo: Less than two weeks away! Visit CFUSA in booth #932!

ACT Expo – North America’s largest clean vehicles event – takes place May 5-8 at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, Calif. It is co-located with NGV Global 2014, the world natural gas vehicles meeting.

ACT Expo 2014 has been endorsed by organizations including the American Trucking Associations.

PERC and SCAQMD Are Presenting Sponsors

The Propane Education & Research Council and the South Coast Air Quality Management District are presenting sponsors.

“From biofuels, electric, fuel cell and hybrid technologies, to propane autogas, DME, clean diesel, and a standout showing of natural gas vehicles, ACT Expo 2014 brings the future of transportation to your fingertips,” GNA says.

In addition to NGV Global 2014, NGV Global’s 14th Biennial Conference, co-located events include
  • PERC’s Lead the Way Propane Autogas Summit;
  • The CHBC Spring Summit organized by California Hydrogen Business Council;
  • a Trucking Efficiency Workshop organized by North American Council for Freight Efficiency & Carbon War Room;
  • a U.S. EPA SmartWay Program Workshop with Penske; and
  • the Women in Alternative Clean Transportation Summit, organized by GNA.
ACT Expo keynote speakers include Dennis Slagle of Volvo Group and Ronald Litzinger of Southern California Edison.

“Learn how the wide range of clean vehicles on the market are helping fleets lower fuel costs, reduce vehicle emissions, and achieve the same great engine performance,” GNA says. “Plus, see the latest equipment, compressors, tanks, pumps, nozzles, valves, and filters that keep alternative fuel fleet operations running smoothly.” Read more here and register for ACT Expo here.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Ferrellgas Details Winter Fleet Challenges

Meeting propane demand through the “polar vortex” this winter brought extra challenges to companies like Ferrellgas and other propane businesses. But in staying focused on winter operation protocols, moving fleet where needed, and allowing for routing flexibility, Ferrellgas was able to face these hurdles head on.

Operations were made a little easier for the propane industry through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) emergency exemptions for propane trucking and other home heating fuels, of which exemptions remain in six states until no later than May 31. However, these regulatory reliefs were only a piece of the puzzle in meeting demand this harsh winter.

Dealing with the Cold
Many states struggled with snow and ice storms throughout the winter this year, and in an industry that relies on trucks and roads to make deliveries, when roads are closed, getting product to customers can pose quite the dilemma. “There's not a whole lot the propane industry can do with the roads,” says Mike Abrams, Ferrellgas director of fleet services, adding that the solution is to either take a longer route or just wait.

Ferrellgas drivers working in these areas are fairly used to adverse weather conditions and traveling private, snow-ridden roads to reach a customer’s home. “They can still find the tanks in four-foot snowdrifts. It's kind of the norm for our drivers to have to go through snow to bring in the hoses,” Abrams says, who has been fleet director for five years and with Ferrellgas for 17.

To forecast demand ahead of schedule and before customers run out, Ferrellgas utilizes tank monitoring technology, which is particularly useful during winter periods of high demand. However, Abrams says that keeping up with demand was exacerbated this year due to a large amount of customers whose suppliers either weren't able to keep up or ran out of an immediate supply, and called on Ferrellgas to step in. “We always make sure the customers we contract with are taken care of,” he says.

This winter was a special case, with many media headlines stating that there was a propane “shortage.” According to Ferrellgas, though, while there were several factors at play including an unusually high demand in the fall and unrelated pipeline issues, calling it a shortage could be argued as a misnomer. “There was and there is plenty of propane in the United States,” says Scott Brockelmeyer, Ferrellgas vice president of communications and marketing. “It was really a situation and scenario where propane was not where we needed it to be.”

So adding road closures and weather issues to the mix made it a perfect storm of challenges. For example, when the company would normally pull product out of Kansas and deliver it to Indiana, the fleet was traveling all the way down to Texas to get it. “That puts longer timelines in the delivery process, and adds to costs,” Abrams says.

For Ferrellgas, having a large fleet aided its winter deliveries. Whether it was changing routes to retrieve propane elsewhere, or shifting portions of the fleet from lower-demand areas to where trucks needed to be. “This was a challenge for a number of retailers in our industry,” Brockelmeyer says.

The Ferrellgas fleet totals around 3,500 trucks spread out nationally, including its Blue Rhino brand, which provides propane tank exchange.

Keeping Engines Running
Diesel fleets across the northernmost and coldest states had to grapple with gelling, which is when diesel fuel hardens in the fuel lines, preventing the truck from starting.

For Ferrellgas, this wasn’t an issue in areas used to the frigid temperatures, where the company uses certain diesel additives in the tanks to prevent the fuel from gelling. This is part of company protocol during winter months. “But for our guys in Indiana, Illinois and Ohio, that’s an unusual thing for them to face, so when -20 degree temperatures hit us overnight where use of additives is not normal protocol, we definitely had fuel gelling issues,” Abrams adds.

To fix the issue, patience is a required tool. “Once the fuel is gelled, you can't just add something to your fuel tank and start the vehicle,” Abrams says. “You need to get it to a shop where they can warm the fuel injectors.”

While products exist to help aid the process, those still involve some mechanical disassembly, so either way, time and getting the truck to a shop and warmed up is key — and not always easy. “Sometimes, you just have to get it towed somewhere,” he says.

Ferrellgas also boasts a robust preventive maintenance program. With its longest replacement cycle of 13-15 years on Class 7 bobtails and any other trucks that are upfitted, staying on top of scheduled maintenance year-round is an important piece to that equation. “The cornerstone to the success of our strategy is a very aggressive preventive maintenance program,” Abrams says.

The fleet keeps a pool of deployable trucks ready, particularly the bobtails, and cylinder and boom trucks. “We've got trucks that are either ready to go, or they’re in the pipeline being built,” Abrams says, adding that this gives the company a lot more flexibility. “It allows our field to operate with a certain level of confidence when they know that if they are going to need a truck we can get them one in relatively short order.” Read more here.

The UPS deployment strategy, plans to add propane-powered trucks

It would be an understatement to say that UPS has been fielding alternative fuel powered package delivery vehicles for a considerable amount of time. After all, the company’s first all-electric truck went into service in New York City—in 1934.

Today, UPS remains an aggressive user of alternative fuel vehicles. It currently operates more than 3,150 all-electric, hybrid electric, hydraulic hybrid, CNG, LNG, propane and biomethane powered vehicles. In 2013, UPS reached a milestone by logging more than 55 million miles with alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles. By 2017, the company anticipates its alternative fuel fleet will have traveled one billion miles.

In early March, the company announced it would invest approximately $70 million in 1,000 new propane package delivery trucks and an initial 50 fueling stations. The propane models will replace gasoline- and diesel-fueled vehicles, initially in rural areas in Louisiana and Oklahoma and eventually in other states.

The new UPS 19,500-lb. GVWR propane powered trucks, LPG versions of the Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) MT-45 chassis, have an estimated range of up to 200 miles on a 48-gal. tank. Powertrain Integration was chosen to equip the FCCC chassis with propane powertrain packages, including a GM 6.0-liter V8 engine rated at 308 HP and 367 lb./ft. of torque at 4,400 RPM, CleanFuel USA Liquid Propane Injection (LPI) fuel systems and Allison automatic transmissions.

“The GM engine and Allison automatic are a great combination,” noted Powertrain Integration Vice President of Engineering Ed Garda, “and our programming for the engine control module optimizes the package for increased power while reducing tailpipe emissions.”

UPS, which tested the propane delivery trucks this past winter in Gainesville, Ga., expects the new units to travel more than 25 million miles and displace approximately 3.5 million gallons of gasoline and diesel per year. The evaluations were part of the company’s rolling laboratory approach for testing alternative fuel vehicle prototypes on the road.

UPS also works regularly with manufacturers, the EPA and other government agencies to pilot projects before new vehicles are ready for commercial deployment. The development of its latest propane engine, fuel platform and chassis were made possible through cooperation between UPS and the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), which worked with equipment manufacturers to secure EPA and California Air Resources Board certifications.

“The opportunity to road test new propane vehicles and fueling equipment with one of the most sophisticated fleets in the country is a major milestone for the propane industry,” said Roy Willis, president and chief executive officer of PERC. “This announcement is the culmination of many entities bringing together the best in propane technology to achieve the greatest economic and environmental results.”

UPS adheres to criteria it has adopted when considering and deploying alternative fuel technologies. Included are that the fuel must be safe, exhibit a measurable improvement in emissions, fuel savings and/or environmental benefit. Additionally, there must be a reliable fueling infrastructure in place and a predictable supply of vehicles and parts. Also required is that the vehicle must be economically viable in terms of initial purchase price, maintenance costs and reliability, and must be adaptable to UPS fleet use characteristics.

“The UPS alternative fuel strategy is to invest in the most environmentally friendly and economical energy sources,” said David Abney, UPS chief operating officer. “Propane meets those criteria as a clean-burning fuel that lowers operating costs and is readily accessible, especially on rural routes in the U.S. States that attract this type of investment with tax incentives and grants will factor into the UPS deployment strategy.” Read more here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lone Star Clean Fuels Alliance Celebrates 20 Years of Helping Clear Austin's Air


AUSTIN, Texas -- An Austin-based organization celebrates 20 years of being green, having started before being green was cool. The Lone Star Clean Fuels Alliance (LSCFA) precedes next week's Earth Day by hosting its 20th Anniversary Celebration today at the Palmer Events Center from 10 am-3 pm. The LSCFA, formerly known as Central Texas Clean Cities, is a U.S. Dept. Of Energy-recognized non-profit coalition dedicated to reducing petroleum consumption in the transportation sector. In addition to a ride-and-drive and exhibits with cleaner-burning alternative fuel vehicles and technologies from area companies, there is a luncheon (11:30), with an address by State Representative Drew Darby, honoring special guests including legislators and agency heads who have helped to grow this membership-based organization - one of 90 such in the nation. This coalition was the sixth in the U.S.

Austin's local Clean Cities coalition, LSCFA, has helped to clean up City of Austin fleet vehicles as well as other fleet and personal vehicles. In 2012 alone, its stakeholders reduced petroleum consumption by 1.6 million gallons, reducing GHG emissions by 10 tons. The largest fuels or vehicles Clean Cities helps to advance are propane, biofuels: ethanol/E85 and biodiesel, natural gas, electric and hydrogen.


"The decision to continue to expand the use of various alternative fuels for fleet vehicles is really a 'no-brainer,'" said Gerry Calk, City of Austin Fleet Director, and one LSCFA Leadership award winner. "Once you get past the hurdle of putting infrastructure in place - if needed - to handle the alternatives, everything else is a benefit. Alternatives have much less negative environmental impact than conventional fuels, are often lower cost fuels, and are domestically produced from renewable or more abundant resources. Maybe future generations will develop technologies to solve all our energy problems, but until then, alternative fuels are the way to go."

 "We are proud to have been involved with LSCFA since its inception 20 years ago," said Curtis Donaldson, managing director and founder of CleanFUEL USA, based in Georgetown. "As one of the first Clean Cities coalitions in the country, LSCFA has worked diligently to bring multiple alternative fuel solutions to fleets in our community while simultaneously helping to grow businesses like ours, who offer those solutions." CleanFUEL was the first company in the U.S. to develop liquid propane fuel injection systems and also offer propane autogas refueling solutions.


The LSCFA has assisted fleets like Ft. Hood, Cities of Austin and Temple, and R&R Bus and Limo to convert or switch to propane, natural gas, biofuels, hybrids and all-electric vehicles, as well as has grown an extensive Texas commercial propane mower presence. Stacy Neef, LSCFA Executive Director since 2001, said, "As a fuel-neutral promoter of alternative fuels, one of our greatest efforts continues to be to bring more alternative fuel infrastructure to the public, and this is finally taking off with lots of electric charging stations, as well as local stations for all these fuels. We strive to educate drivers and fleets of their alternative fuel options, some of which are already parked in their driveway."


The other Lifetime Achievement and Leadership award winners today are:

·         TX Education Commissioner/Fmr Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams

·         Former Mayor and Senator Kirk Watson

·         Former General Land Office Commissioner Garry Mauro

·         Railroad Commissioner David Porter

·         State Energy Conservation Office Director Dub Taylor

·         State Representative Tony Dale

·         State Representative Jason Isaac

·         State Representative Eddie Rodriguez

·         Former Program Manager of Austin Clean Cities Fred Blood

·         Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell (invited).

Vehicles available for the ride-and-drive today include personal and commercial, such as the Nissan Leaf and more, and run on electric, propane, natural gas, and E85.

# # #
 
About the Clean Cities program: Clean Cities advances the nation's economic, environmental, and energy security by supporting local actions to reduce petroleum consumption in transportation. A national network of nearly 100 Clean Cities coalitions brings together stakeholders in the public and private sectors to deploy alternative and renewable fuels, idle-reduction measures, fuel economy improvements, and emerging transportation technologies.
About LSCFA: For 20 years, your Austin-area Clean Cities coalition has helped clear the air through various projects such as migrating City vehicles to alternative fuels, converting much of the booming landscaping industry in TX to propane mowers, incentivizing AE customers to ride electric bikes and scooters, and much more. In 1994, under the City of Austin, Austin Clean Cities was the 6th coalition to join the U.S. DOE Clean Cities Program and the first city to join that was in attainment for air quality. In 2000, the Coalition rebranded and expanded to Central Texas Clean Cities, covering Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties. Later, as part of Austin Energy, Ft. Hood joined the coalition, followed by the City of Temple. In 2012, the coalition reorganized into a DOE-recognized, membership-based, non-profit coalition named Lone Star Clean Fuels Alliance (LSCFA). In 2012 alone, our stakeholders reduced petroleum consumption by 1.6 million gallons, reducing GHG emissions by 10 tons.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

CleanFUEL USA Unveils Propane Industry’s First Fully Integrated Fuel Management System - CleanFUEL eCONNECT - at NPGA Expo

GEORGETOWN, TX –– April 10, 2014 – CleanFUEL USA, an industry leader in propane autogas technology, today announced immediate availability of the propane autogas industry’s first complete fuel network management system for electronic dispensers, CleanFUEL eCONNECT. Fleet managers can economically monitor and control fuel inventories faster and easier than ever before using CleanFUEL eCONNECT with real-time data insight, flexible report storage and remote access capabilities.


“While the fleet industry has made amazing strides in adoption of propane autogas, it has also lacked an economical and innovative solution at the pump that utilizes all that software technology has to offer,” said Curtis Donaldson, founder and managing partner of CleanFUEL USA. “CleanFUEL eCONNECT changes that, as we tap into the technology used by so many other industries for efficient and economical resource management to bring remote and real-time monitoring and control of fuel inventories to propane autogas fleets.” 

CleanFUEL eCONNECT is simple to use with in-dispenser operations as well as remote access and control capabilities from a computer, tablet or mobile device. The software offers dispenser diagnostics and real-time reports, which can be stored on a local computer, remote server or the cloud. Fleet managers can also customize CleanFUEL eCONNECT to meet specific data collection needs, such as vehicle mileage, fuel consumption and driver controls, all at a substantially lower entry cost with improved security over a standard dispenser.

Additional CleanFUEL eCONNECT options include keypad entry, card reader, RFID and key fob (Dallas button), as well as integrated printing. This new alternative fuel software technology is UL listed (class 1, division 2) and is approved for hazard material zones.

NPGA Southeastern Convention and International Expo – Booth #415
CleanFUEL USA will showcase two of its dispensers with CleanFUEL eCONNECT, a P6000 series and P2000 series, at the National Propane Gas Association Southeastern Convention and International Expo in Atlanta, GA, from April 12-14, 2014. Attendees can enter to win a new P2100 dispenser with CleanFUEL eCONNECT in the company booth #415; winner to be announced Monday, April 14.

CleanFUEL USA will also feature its Red Seal Measurement Neptune Mass Flow Meter, the most accurate and trouble-free meter on the market, which utilizes Coriolis technology. The meter offers a clear and uncompromised account of every dispenser transaction in real-time with remote access, and is available in all CleanFUEL USA refueling dispensers.

In addition, Freightliner Custom Chassis will feature a S2G with Linebacker Crane Truck body and CleanFUEL USA’s Liquid Propane Injection (LPI) system in booth #T-1543. Full production of the S2G chassis is expected by early summer.

About CleanFUEL USA:
CleanFUEL USA, the nation’s first developer of liquid propane fuel injection systems, is a leading manufacturer of propane autogas dispensers and refueling infrastructure. Headquartered in Georgetown, Texas, with an engineering division in Wixom, Mich., CleanFUEL USA celebrates more than 20 years of innovation. Setting industry standards with a complete alternative fuel solution, CleanFUEL USA products offer unsurpassed economic and environmental advantages. Learn more at www.cleanfuelusa.com.

Connect on Twitter (@CleanFUELUSA), Facebook (facebook.com/CleanFUELUSA), YouTube (youtube.com/CleanFuelUSA1) and LinkedIn (linkedin.com/company/cleanfuel-usa).


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Contacts
Gina Manassero
(512) 553-2387(512) 553-2387

Crystelle Markley
CleanFUEL USA
(512) 864-0300(512) 864-0300