New NFPA 58 guidelines change autogas refueling process

December 27, 2019 By    

Changes to the autogas refueling process are on the horizon due to new NFPA 58 2020 guidelines.

NFPA 58 2020 guidelines specify the propane industry adopt the K15 connection for all future autogas vehicles after January 1, 2020.

NFPA 58 2020 guidelines specify the propane industry adopt the K15 connection for all future autogas vehicles after Jan. 1, 2020. Photo courtesy of Alliance AutoGas

The guidelines for the new year specify the propane industry adopt the K15 connection for all future autogas vehicles reinstated into service, purchased or converted after Jan. 1, 2020.

Unlike the outgoing ACME valve, which requires a threaded connection to the vehicle, the K15 allows for a much easier quick-connect to a vehicle for refueling. This type of connection reduces fugitive emissions during the autogas refueling process, making it more environmentally friendly and increasing driver safety, Alliance AutoGas (AAG) explains.

Fugitive emissions – or gases or vapors that are released due to leaks and other irregular releases of gases – often escape during the autogas refueling process. AAG says the average quick-connect K15 releases 76 percent less fugitive emissions when compared to the ACME connecter.

“We have seen a significant increase in autogas gallons used for fleets that have switched from the ACME to the quick-connect,” says Jessica Johnson, partner and projects liaison for AAG. “It creates a fueling experience that they are used to and is less intimidating because they don’t have to put on the protective equipment. Our customers are much more confident in their refueling, and can go about business as usual.”

The NFPA 58 code change is not retroactive to vehicles produced before Jan. 1, 2020, AAG explains. However, when a fleet receives a new propane vehicle or performs a conversion after Jan. 1, 2020, the K15 is a requirement for that vehicle.

To help fleets through this transition, adaptors are available, though adaptors are not considered a long-term solution. Any existing ACME equipped propane vehicle can quickly and easily be retrofitted to the new K15 refueling valve, which is the preferred solution for fleets because it allows them to benefit from the advancements in propane vehicle refueling, increasing their ease of operation and safety, AAG says.

“The quick-connect K15 is an exciting advancement in the autogas industry,” says David Kennedy, director of autogas design at AAG. “It provides an easier process compared to what was being used previously and is more environmentally friendly. We have had elderly drivers from our Alliance AutoGas customers struggle with lining the ACME connecter and getting it to thread in the past. Having the K15 allows drivers to refuel with greater ease.”

Fleets that are currently operating autogas vehicles, AAG says, should contact their fuel provider to better understand how these new regulations could affect them. Vehicles without the K15 connecter risk losing access to public propane refueling stations designed for the 2020 regulation.

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About the Author:

Joe McCarthy was an associate editor at LP Gas Magazine.

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