Sector: LPG

eMV - perfecting the perfect

There are things in the automotive sector that apparently cannot be further improved, such as the rear view mirror. Until recently we believed the LPG tank multivalve is one such thing, too, but BRC proved us wrong.

Need may be traditionally the mother of invention, but a specific requirement made by a customer can be her just as well and that's exactly how it was in this particular case – BRC developed the eMV (Electronic MultiValve) at the suggestion of the OEM market, i.e. manufacturers of cars who offer versions of their models LPG-converted from the showroom. The Italian company doesn't reveal just yet which carmaker will benefit from the new solution first, but reportedly it's a major European one.

BRC's eMV electronic multivalve© gazeo.comArt for art's sake or the beginning of a new era? It's too early to answer, but we're intrigued

One would think the multivalve is so ingenious in its simplicity that even if it could be reinvented, there is no need to do it, because it's perfect the way it is. Or at least good enough. In any case, improving it could simply prove inviable, because developing a better multivalve would cost more than can be gained from the improvements. In case of the eMV, the improvement is in higher precision, since the multivalve is operated electronically, not mechanically.

Some components have to remain mechanical, though – for safety reasons. And so the relief valve and the fire fuse are still governed by pure physics, although the relief valve is more efficient than currently used ones, to empty the tank quicker. Electronics govern the rest: the excessive flow valve, the filling valve and the 80% valve, as well as measuring the level of LPG left in the tank (the floater has been replaced by an optical sensor). BRC's product is in no way based on mechanical multivalves – the eMV has been designed from scratch, which goes to highlight its innovative nature.

Is there a chance for the eMV to reach the aftermarket one day? Probably yes, but not immediately. The OEM sector, who inspired BRC to develop the product, is first in line to benefit from the new design and its first application (on a Stako tank) is reportedly just around the corner. Later, as the new technology becomes more affordable through mass production, spreading availability to individual installers of autogas systems for used cars is an option. Price may turn out to be the vital factor, especially in markets such as Turkey, Poland, Ukraine and Russia, that's why the aftermarket is not BRC's priority when it comes to eMV marketing.

As far as LPG tanks are concerned, they require no modifications to be equipped with eMV multivalves, but each tank size is going to need a dedicated eMV type. However, BRC aims to help installers and take the burden of seeking and matching the right sizes by providing complete, ready-made tank/multivalve assemblies. Are we witnessing a revolution happening right before our eyes, one which will soon be joined by other manufacturers? Or maybe is it just a one-time wonder, a dead end, an attempt at improving something that is perfect just the way it has been? Only time will tell.

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Robert Markowski
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