Updated nozzles revolutionize the fueling experience

November 17, 2017 By    

The European-style nozzle allows for a more gasoline-style filling experience. Photo courtesy of Blossman Gas

We, as an industry, need to help promote the adoption of propane autogas.

There have been a number of technological innovations in autogas that have enabled easier and safer conversions. Floating to the top of that list is the availability of European-style, quick-connect nozzles and filling receptacles to provide users with a safe and easy fueling experience.

The search for a replacement for the traditional ACME system filler on autogas vehicles was accelerated by the needs of a large innovative national fleet.

At an early pilot location, a driver was injured when fueling a large walk-in style van. Apparently, the filler was cross-threaded, and the driver was not wearing any protective equipment. The ensuing injury halted the program instantly.

At the time, the customer was running dedicated autogas units and decided to park the fleet. Through a more thorough training program, the fleet eventually went back to using the vans. However, because of the incident, large-scale adoption was put on hold.

There are numerous options for autogas fillers. In Europe, the number of options has caused drivers a bit of an inconvenience. They must carry multiple adapters to allow them to fuel as they travel. Though there are many options out there, through research and testing, the European-style, quick-connect nozzles came out on top as the winner.

2014 launch created breakthrough

Putting the technology through standards testing, and even eventually UL approvals, takes a lot of time, effort and financial resources. By the fall of 2014, however, the stage was set for launch.

Early testing of the technology showed instant acceptance. The filling process became more effortless and much more akin to a gasoline-style filling experience.

One of the early evaluators of the nozzle was a bus fleet that employed many retired people as part-time drivers. Within weeks, fuel consumption jumped by about 20 percent. By making fueling easier and less intimidating, the experience was enhanced. In turn, adoption was simpler.

Change is never easy. In this case, the change-out of the nozzle had to be coordinated with changing the fill port of the vehicles. We have designed adaptors, but that method is a little cumbersome.

Our first adopters were fleets that had previous complications with ACME fillers. Our second phase was making the European-style connector the standard for new autogas customers. The third phase of rollout was on an “as requested” service for existing customers that wished to be retrofitted.

The majority of our autogas businesses are at private fuel sites, so the changeover can usually be conducted in one day. However, some of our partners utilize shared sites, which makes the rollout a little more complicated. Many of these facilities have added a second dispenser nozzle to accommodate both filling options.

Technology continues value for high-volume refilling

As we continue to move forward, this technology is becoming more valuable in other areas. The same technology is a great fit for high-volume cylinder refilling. With as little as a 0.4-cubic-centimeter vapor loss, and the quick connect/disconnect, this technology could allow forklift cylinders to be filled in a much more efficient and productive manner.

Ed Hoffman is president of Blossman Services Inc., a subsidiary of The Blossman Companies. Hoffman has over 25 years’ experience in the commercial vehicle service and fleet leasing business. As a former fleet manager, he discovered the benefits of alternative fuels and transitioned hundreds of vehicles to operate on propane autogas. He can be contacted at 828-232-0910.

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