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North Slope summit to address vehicle propane use

Posted: August 23, 2011 - 9:40pm

The Alaska Propane Technical Summit starts today on the North Slope, a fitting location seeing as how companies are interested in extracting propane from there to power Alaska’s truck fleets.

Several government officials, engineers, operational experts, fleet representatives and other potential stakeholders will be on hand to evaluate aspects of propane autogas technology from ROUSH CleanTech, a manufacturer of alternative fuel systems.

The summit is also coordinated by the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority. ANGDA CEO Harold Heinze said this will educate more automotive fleets about converting to propane power.

“In this case, (ROUSH) have been perfecting the technology of automotive engines running on propane and they’ve married that to very standard truck designs,” said Heinze.

“One of ROUSH’s big focuses has been in Alaska because it will make such a big difference,” he said.

Heinze said the propane alternative is advantageous to Alaska fleets for a number of reasons. One, of course, is environmental.

ANGDA consultant Mary Ann Pease, who is also the Alaskan representative for the Pacific Propane Gas Association, said it’s been documented that vehicles on propane have up to 24 percent less greenhouse gas emissions, 20 percent less nitrogen oxide and 60 percent less carbon dioxide when compared to gasoline.

“So you can imagine it’s even higher for diesel,” she said.

Heinze said non-toxic propane doesn’t harm groundwater or soil either.

Heinze said federal air regulations require all the fleets use ultra-low-sulfur diesels.

“Making that available in Alaska has been difficult and expensive,” he said. “Propane more than satisfies the requirement.”

He said the availability of propane in the North Slope serves as an advantage. He said there is a huge amount of propane there and companies must explore the right combination for tapping into it.

A ROUSH release states 4 million gallons of propane surfaces on the North Slope daily.

Heinze said millions of gallons are re-injected back into the North Slope daily and in-state uses must be explored. He said local fleets can get the most of this and many such trucks have already been tested for Alaska winters.

“These trucks are performance workhorses, even in the harshest Alaska weather conditions,” ROUSH CleanTech Vice President Todd Mouw stated in the release. “Propane autogas is the perfect ‘zero compromise’ alternative fuel solution for fleets looking for a fuel that’s readily available, environmentally friendly and economical — without sacrificing horsepower and performance. Propane autogas could become an export product and job creation source in Alaska.”

“This is an easy choice,” he said. “Ultra-low-sulfur diesel costs $5 per gallon or more to truck up to the slope. These fleets can save well over $4 per gallon by switching to an Alaskan resource that is produced right on the slope.”

Pease said it will take the right arrangements from commercial producers in the private sector to make this happen.

The summit follows a nine-month demonstration of two ROUSH CleanTech propane autogas Ford F-250 pickup trucks.

Pease said ROUSH has been working with the Propane Education and Research Council and Ford Motor Co. since 2006 to develop liquid propane autogas fuel systems for a variety of Ford commercial vehicles.

Randy Bradford, market manager for Alaska’s AmeriGas, which provided the fuel for the propane autogas demo trucks, also stated agreement in the release.

“Propane autogas is such a valuable alternative to diesel in Alaska, and we are focused on the opportunity to see additional propane usage, especially with fleet vehicles,” he said.

• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or at jonathan.grass@juneauempire.com.

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