AS prices of renewable energy and electric equipment continue to drop, industrial companies are slowly changing to electric vehicles.
So what of autogas, which seems to have been left out in the cold? Is it a viable alternative fuel?
Autogas is sold in South Africa as liquid petroleum gas (LPG), compressed natural gas (CNG), and methane obtained from biomass.
Speakers at a recent Automechanika online seminar, certainly think gas is not only viable but an affordable alternative fuel for petrol and diesel vehicles.
An added benefit to using gas, they say, is that it reduces harmful emissions by as much as 25 percent. Vehicles with gas conversions also escape the ban on driving ICE vehicles in congested areas and operating in certain countries after cut-off dates.
Eddie Cooke who participates in international autogas projects and works with the South African Bureau of Standards, says the country is well-positioned to use gas as a vehicle fuel because the relevant regulations are already in place.
Cooke said that there is more gas than oil in the world, and it’s also cheaper than petrol and diesel. While few vehicles in South Africa are sold as standard to use LPG or CNG. conversion of petrol or diesel-powered vehicles can be done.
Frank MacNicol of the Automotive Remanufacturers’ Association said the organisation has been involved in gas conversions for many years, and there is growing interest in this business.
MacNicol said costs of conversions are becoming more affordable, and they can be amortised in a comparatively brief period, particularly if the vehicles are well used. Costs could be even lower if conversion components were made locally instead of imported.
Gas conversions on existing internal combustion engines (ICE) would extend the life of present-day service and maintenance workshops as well as the people who work in them.