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GasShow 2017 - to each his own
Up until the fourth generation of autogas systems (sequential vapour state injection for port-injected engines) everything was fairly simple. Each conversion kit comprised a tank, an ECU, a reducer and an injector rail and in general they all worked pretty much the same. Then Dutch manufacturers made a small revolution by introducing liquid state port autogas injection (fifth generation), but it wasn't until the advent of direct petrol injection that true confusion began.
That's because those same Dutch manufacturers took their idea a step further by applying non-vapourised LPG right through the engine's original petrol injectors. Italians, on the other hand, believed that injecting vapourised autogas into the intake manifold, like before, plus small interjections of petrol straight into combustion chambers, was the way to go. The division is still visible today and it's hard to say which method is more eligible to be called the sixth generation. And now we have the seventh generation, apparently.
AC from Białystok, Poland, manufacturer of the STAG family of systems, developed and introduced at the GasShow a solution in which the engine is „fed” with vapourised (via port injectors) and non-vapourised (via direct petrol injectors) LPG at the same time. The new product has been named STAG 500 DIS and, interestingly, is a versatile one, which means it doesn't require separate, individual injection maps for each and every engine code. Companies such as LPGTECH, EuropeGAS and DGI remain faithful to liquid-only direct LPG injection, while Romano Autogas of Italy has surprisingly jumped on the liquid direct injection bandwagon by presenting their own system, co-developed with Atiker of Turkey.
As far as vapour state indirect injection with small portions of directly injected petrol is concerned, ALEX, Elpigaz and KME from Poland seem devoted to this solution, as well as Landi Renzo (who presented a new kit for Volkswagen Group's 1,0 TSI engine), Lovato and BRC of Italy (although the latter brand also has the LDI on offer – a direct liquid autogas injection system). The Dutch company Prins, now a part of the Westport Fuel Systems group, believes it is best to have both technologies in stock, since each suits certain engines better than the other. This was pretty clear in the company's display during the fair.
Apart from the already known Direct LiquiMax Gen3 system, Prins also presented an electronic, membraneless LPG reducer for high output engines (eVP-500), the Compact Pro ECU for MPI engines with up to 4 cylinders and a version of the VSI-DI 2.0 featuring Dual Injection technology – a vapour state LPG injection system for engines featuring two separate petrol systems (one direct and one indirect). Sister company BRC (also in the Westport Fuel Systems portfolio) displayed an electronically operated, non-mechanical multivalve (eMV), whose only remaining mechanical components are the fuse valve and the excess flow valve.
Concerning liquid direct LPG injection still, there was an interesting device on display on the stand of little known company BRUM GAS from Italy. Basically a set of solenoid valves put together in a single block of metal, with in- and outlets for petrol and autogas, the contraption (which will be accompanied by an ECU, currently under development) manages flow of fuels into the engine's petrol injectors. It allows the engine to start cold directly in LPG mode. We'll have to wait and see what comes out of it, but the idea seems promising.
Producers of additives and accessories were also busy between GasShows 2016 and 2017, preparing new ideas and technologies. ERC debuted the MPULSER, a stabiliser fluid for long-kept and slowly used petrol (thus suitable for LPG- and CNG-powered engines), while Flashlube presented the Catch Can Pro – an oil fume filter preventing carbon deposits. Turkish and Bulgarian companies made surprisingly little progress, with NLP, Monro Enerji or Fobos presenting systems for MPI engines only. The aforementioned Atiker is an exception here thanks to the cooperation with Romano of Italy. Turkish tank manufacturers (including Tugra Makina and again Atiker) are more up to date with what's going on and offer tanks for liquid injection systems, which include tank pumps.
And speaking of tanks, Stako (part of Worthington Industries) has developed a method of producing toruses from thinner sheets of steel without compromising durability or safety. Apart from typical tanks with 3 mm walls (S for standard), Stako now offers T (thin walls, 2,5 mm) and U (ultralight, 2,1 mm) tanks, which are considerably lighter. For a 630x225 mm tank, S, T and U toruses tip the scales at, respectively, 26, 23,5 and 20 kg. On top of that, the U tank offers 55 instead of 53 l of gross capacity.
And what about CNG and LNG? The presence of methane fuels was quite modest this year, but of course they were there. Stako had type III tanks, Vitkovice Milmet presented steel cylinders, Westport Fuel Systems had Cubo Gas and BRC Fuel Maker compressors and Chart Ferox offered comprehensive CNG and LNG station technology. Even though GasShow is an international event, you can't go far with methane fuels in a country where use of them is so marginal. But hopefully that's about to change.
The highlight of the second day of the event was the INPRO award ceremony for products, services and stands of GasShow 2017. The nominees and winners are:
- in the Innovative Technology category:
- ALEX for the OPTIMA autogas system;
- DGI Autogas Technology for the DGI LM liquid state autogas injector;
- EuropeGAS for the EG DIRECTO direct autogas injection system.
The winner was DGI Autogas Technology.
- in the Innovative Product category:
- AC for STAG 500 DIS;
- BEST Heating Systems for the Frigidity Exchanger;
- Certools for the adapter-filter.
The winner was BEST Heating Systems.
In the Debut of the Year category, KME was awarded for the Nevo-Sky Direct system. Also, three special awards were presented:
- for Prins Alternative Fuel Systems for the Dual Injection technology;
- for BRC for the eMV electronic multivalve;
- for ERC Additives for the ERC MPULSER petrol stabiliser.
The best fair stand award was presented to AC.
As for GasShow 2018, we already accept bets and guesses concerning what will dominate the fair next year. We suppose direct LPG injection will remain strong tendency, but how about putting diesel blending back on the map? We shall see.
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