Fuel supplier predicts expansion of OEM propane use

Jan. 1, 2020
Icom North America, an alternative fuel systems and tanks supplier for commercial and passenger vehicles, believes there will be an increase in "green collar" jobs in Michigan as vehicle OEMs embrace liquefied propane, natural gas and other alternati

Icom North America, an alternative fuel systems and tanks supplier for commercial and passenger vehicles, believes there will be an increase in "green collar" jobs in Michigan as vehicle OEMs embrace liquefied propane, natural gas and other alternative fuels.

Ralph Perpetuini, Icom CEO, says his company is seeing increased interest from OEMs in Icom's JTG (injection traction gas) propane-vehicle systems and natural gas systems. The largest users in the U.S. currently are school and shuttle buses, as well as light- and medium-duty trucks.

"OEM interest in propane is growing," he says. To demonstrate the versatility of this fuel, Icom and CleanFUEL USA, Georgetown, Texas, recently converted a Saturn Vue hybrid from gasoline-electric to propane-electric. Customized by Rick Bottom Designs, Mendota, Ill., the Saturn Vue was displayed at the 2008 SEMA Show and the 2009 Chicago Auto Show.

"Any gasoline- or diesel-powered vehicle can be modified to use propane or natural gas," Perpetuini says. "With the proper use of alternative fuels, we can enjoy increased energy security, increased employment in an emerging sector and decreased emissions."

He said 4,000 propane filling stations currently serve some 170,000 propane vehicles and 1,100 natural gas stations serve 150,000 natural gas vehicles. These figures are expected to rise as commercial and passenger vehicle markets appreciate the cost and environmental benefits of propane and natural gas.

"Propane and natural gas vehicle provide a 'clean' balance of fuel economy, performance and dramatically reduced emissions," Perpetuini says. "Icom's JTG liquid-propane injection application is a fully-integrated, dedicated or bi-fuel engine system designed in harmony with OEM gasoline engines. Driveability, performance and torque are equal to or better than conventional fuels, and propane exhaust creates 60-70 percent less smog-producing hydrocarbons than gasoline."

As gasoline increases in price, propane and natural gas continue to have a cost advantage, with more than 90 percent of the nation's propane and natural gas coming from U.S. and Canadian sources, further reducing dependence on foreign oil.

Icom’s vehicle conversion systems may utilize the company’s proprietary Toroidal Tank, developed and manufactured by parent company Icom S.p.A. of Cisterna di Latina, Italy. The company is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2009. More than 100,000 vehicles worldwide have utilized the Icom JTG Propane System since 2004. Icom has manufactured more than 2.5 million toroidal tanks

A new Icom JTG High Pressure Direct Injection Propane System is in the final development stages and will be available for use in Europe in the fourth quarter of 2009.

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