Scania Austria goes LPG
Over 25 Scania trucks on Austrian roads no longer run exclusively on diesel, but fuel their engines with a mixture of diesel and Autogas. “LPG has the advantage that it is much cheaper than diesel in purchasing,” says Gerhard Hablas of Scania Austria. Under his initiative a project launched in autumn 2013 saw the creation of collaboration between Scania and the German company Freetron. Freetron markets their dual-fuel conversion kits for commercial vehicles, which enable existing trucks to operate on alternative fuels despite having classic diesel engines under the cabins. “LPG is perfectly suited even for modern Euro 6 trucks and makes them even more economical and environmentally friendly, “explains Gerhard Hablas.
The dual-fuel principle (simultaneus combustion of diesel and LPG) can be explained quickly: already known as fumigation in a much rougher form, the modern iteration employs its own onboard computer constantly evaluating the vehicle’s condition by listening into its CAN-Bus. Based on the data exchanged between ECU and other controllers (driver inputs) it adapts the amount of LPG injected as needed. “As the use of LPG may not increase the engine power, gas-injection is restricted to partial load in this version,” the Scania project manager adds. The added LPG is interpreted by the vehicle’s original ECU as a lower power requirement. It reduces the amount of diesel injected without the driver having to alter the position of the accelerator pedal. “Apart from the commercial advantage, LPG burns much cleaner than diesel, which reduces the emissions of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxides”, Gerhard Hablas draws a clear comparison to pure diesel operation.
Hablas describes the lightly loaded overland transport as optimum operating conditions. “If long distances are to be covered in the partial load range, the system can show its full strength.” The conversion costs per truck begin at around 7,000 euros (about 9,000 US dollars). Experience with the first converted vehicles in Austria have shown, that in practice it the system is viable and easily possible recoups this investment within 15 months. Scania has prepared their branches in Stockerau, Bad Fischau, Haid and Kirchbichl with the necessary know-how and equipment to perform and maintain conversions. “A major advantage over other alternative fuels is its combination with diesel,” says Gerhard Hablas. Should the driver run out of LPG (in spite of Austria’s over 35 LPG filling stations), the journey is continued in diesel-only mode.