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propane for home

London Police Department’s Experience

Ivey

Background:

The London Police Department (LPD) services a population of 352,030 covering 163.3 square miles 1. The department consists of 576 uniformed officers of which the Patrol Division employs 260 and has 90 front line vehicles that are out on the road approximately 16 hours per day. For these vehicles, safety, reliability, and performance are critical and cannot be compromised. The average police vehicle out on patrol is generally driven for approximately 35,000 km per year. However, after factoring in all the idle time it is equivalent to approximately 70,000 km per year burning up to six times as much fuel as an average consumer vehicle. These front line vehicles consume between 12,000 and 14,000 litres of gasoline annually in the absence of an alternative fuel program. Accordingly, fuel costs represent a significant portion of non-personnel operating costs on an annual basis. Any savings realized can be used to improve the level of service provided to the public through the hiring of additional officers or improvement in technology used to keep the public safe.

The LPD realized this and in response to increasing gasoline costs, searched for alternative and more cost effective motor vehicle fuel. In 1983, LPD adopted the use of propane as the primary fuel for vehicles that were subject to significant annual use such as patrol vehicles 2. The adoption of carbureted propane technology allowed LPD to move away from gasoline as the primary fuel source and realize fuel cost savings. This technology worked very well from 1983 to 2000. However, the 2000-2001 vehicle models included advanced Original Equipment Maker’s (OEM) technology which resulted in the carbureted system experiencing increasing problems with mixers and throttle bodies. The technology also presented risks with respect to backfiring issues in the intake manifolds as well as difficulty passing the provincial NOX test.

The increasing problems resulted in significant maintenance costs and increased time. As a result, LPD began to search for an alternative. During this time, LPD did not revert back to gasoline as a primary source of vehicle fuel because they recognized the benefit of cost savings that came from the use of propane and were committed to continuing to find means of alternative and more cost effective vehicle fuels .

Population figures from City of London Financial Services.

The cost per barrel of oil jumped from mid $30s (in 2006 U.S. dollars) in 1979 to high $60s (in 2006 U.S. dollars) in response to lower production as a result of the Iran-Iraq war that began in September 1980. savings that came from the use of propane and were committed to continuing to find means of alternative and more cost effective vehicle fuels 3.

Solution:

The LPD invited SFI Engine Technologies Inc. (“SFI”) to demonstrate their product. SFI’s SEQUIN 4 System is designed and programmed specifically to support and leverage OEM’s on-board diagnostic technology. The SEQUIN technology allows seamless transitioning between gasoline and propane under all conditions without any operator involvement in fuel selection. The technology is designed to favour propane as the fuel of choice and automatically switches between propane and gasoline based on the ideal conditions at the time of operation. Further, the technology has received certification from the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. and the Canadian Standards Association.

LPD decided to test the benefits of SEQUIN System by adopting two demo vehicles for a period of two months. During this period, the LPD tracked the performance of these two vehicles relative to their current fleet. The results of this tracking demonstrated the benefits proclaimed by SFI. Accordingly, LPD adopted SEQUIN System from SFI in the spring of 2004. Since then, LPD has worked closely with SFI to fine tune the technology.

Benefits Realized:

Based on figures tracked by the LPD, vehicles converted using SEQUIN System on average saves the department $11,000 per vehicle net of investment over the life of that vehicle through savings in fuel costs and higher proceeds on the subsequent sale of the vehicle into the resale market. Further, propane has contributed to fewer oil changes and enhanced engine life which has explained the higher resale value. This also has reduced the amount of time a vehicle needs to spend in the shop and increase the time out on the road to help keep the community safe.

According to Mr. Irwin, Fleet Manager at LPD, vehicle responsiveness and performance are important and compare favourably to gasoline-powered vehicles. LPD also no longer needs to worry about passing NOX test as SEQUIN is cleaner than the predecessor technology according to Mr. Irwin. The adoption of this technology also helps reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. The use of propane enables a vehicle driven 65,000 km a year to emit 4 tonnes less of greenhouse gasses then a same vehicle on gasoline.

Finally, since the inception of the program 24 years ago, the LPD has had no safety issues related to the use of propane fuel or equipment. Even though vehicles equipped with propane conversion technology have experienced collisions from all angles and some have been damaged beyond repair, the propane tank, fuel lines and conversion equipment have withstood the abuse.

Footnotes:

1. Population figures from City of London Financial Services.

2.The cost per barrel of oil jumped from mid $30s (in 2006 U.S. dollars) in 1979 to high $60s (in 2006 U.S. dollars) in response to lower production as a result of the Iran-Iraq war that began in September 1980.

3. According to Gar Irwin, Fleet Manager, LPD also had the propane fuel infrastructure in place and were aware of the presence of improved technology in the market place that they could adopt.

4. The technology works on Ford 4.6 and 5.4 litre platforms including Crown Victoria, Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, Grand Marquis, Lincoln Town Car, as well as the F-150, F-250, and F-350 trucks, and E-250 and E-350 vans.