Rivet, CMV, Elgas and Prins partner up alternative propulsion solution

The wraps are off an initiative involving a trucking company, a dealership, a dual-fuel system vendor and a gas supplier to accelerate alternative fuels progress in Australia.

More than 18 months of technical, operational and regulatory work have seen Rivet, CMV Truck & Bus, Prins Autogassystemen and Unigas/Elgas prove the concept, with the group claiming trials show 18-24 per cent energy equivalent savings a 60 per cent reduction in particulate matter and a 2 per cent CO2 reduction.

The Prins technology substitutes LPG Autogas for diesel once the prime mover meets optimal engine operating conditions and Rivet Energy MD Mark Anderson tells ATN he transition is smooth enough that it is imperceptible to the drivers.

He adds that though precise figures are yet to be made public, the payback time "indicatively" is about 220,000km over 12 months.

Dealer CMV Truck & Bus converted Rivet trucks, a Volvo FH540hp with a D13C Volvo engine and a Kenworth T403 with a Cummins ISX15 500hp engine, to a Prins Diesel Blend 2.1 engine system 18 months ago.

"[They have] been running without a problem since," Anderson relates.

"When we went to both Volvo and Kenworth, it was through CMV Group and that helped us with the decision to go with the13-litre platform on the Volvo and the Kenworth with the Cummins in it.
"Definitely the support through CMV and the area around the tanks and the tank brackets to get them certified to suit the chassis."

He speaks of a joint effort between Rivet and Kenworth mechanics realising the concepts.
"Since then, there have been really no issues – the drivers don’t notice they’re running on LPG.
"If it runs out of LPG, it converts straight back to diesel and they continue on with the trip." Anderson says.

This, though, is mostly hypothetical as test routes, particularly one between Melbourne and Sydney, are designed to keep it from happening.

For CMV director Rohan Cook, his side was well placed to take the project on board, having had five years already looking after LNG propulsion for another customer.

It meant he had trained and certified technicians already in place.

"It all made sense to me – LPG is a good fuel, it’s readily available, which I saw as a real bonus for the industry, and it was a good match with the conversion.

"It was a pretty straight-forward conversion to do. It wasn’t too intrusive of the main driveline componentry. It was really a small adaption so it was quite easy to … install and to make sure that we can provide service for it in the future as well."

Cook is an alternative-fuels fan and sees them as the future for the industry.

"We need to have those readily available, because, one day, and it will be pretty soon, the price of oil will go up and things will change and change quite quickly."

Importantly for the Australian market, Dutch firm Prins has spent most of this decade seeing its converter tested with Canadian trucking firms, such as Robert Transport amongst others, including TYT group, and across a range of engines, such Volvo, Cummins and Detroit.

The group is focusing presently on the compliance effort, which Prins managing director Bart Van Aerle joined from his Dutch headquarters this week, and praises the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s (NHVR) efforts in support.

"They were taking a position of productivity and safety as their main core values and as time has gone on now, we have been trying to develop and standard or compliance regime and that’s where it’s come to," Elgas corporate affairs manager Warring Neilsen says.

Neilsen sees this initiative as bolstering the nation’s present emissions commitment by helping improve CO2 and particulate outcomes

It’s a positive feeling cordially reflected.

"The NHVR is generally supportive of any industry innovation that may be of benefit to the heavy vehicle industry providing it meets safety and environmental requirements," a NHVR spokesperson tells ATN.

"We are currently supporting Unigas/Elgas’ trial and evaluation of this technology by issuing certain exemptions from the heavy vehicle standards.

"By allowing controlled trials, we assist companies to explore emerging technologies under Australian conditions to determine their viability and feasibility.

"We look forward to seeing a collective approach from industry for this emerging innovation."
Separately, the wider message for the market, according to Elgas corporate affairs manager Warring Neilsen, is to be wary of the hype surrounding the emergence of electric propulsion, especially in heavy-duty trucks, which is unproven and yet to solve payload/battery weight conundrum.