The lower emissions and cost savings of alternative fuels are intriguing, but those benefits must be balanced with day-to-day efficiency. Luckily, a new type of propane autogas fuel tank can help you achieve both.
Toroidal propane autogas tanks aren’t new per se; they’ve been popular in Europe for decades. Manufacturers there prefer the donut shape because it conveniently fits within a car’s spare tire space, leaving the entire trunk available for cargo.
The tanks were introduced in the U.S. about a year ago. Unlike Europe, the U.S. market is focused on the conversion of new or existing fleet vehicles by propane autogas system integrators.
Integrator interest is growing here because of the benefits to both public and private fleets: a space-saving option along with reliable performance and value over thousands of miles of driving.
Before, integrators specifying propane autogas system components had to use a cylindrical tank. That’s a logical option for vehicles that travel long distances, but not many public works vehicles.
Let’s say you’re thinking of specifying a propane autogas pickup truck. A cylindrical tank installed behind the cab consumes up to 30% of the truck’s bed, lowering space for tools, equipment, and material by roughly a third.
A toroidal tank installed in the spare tire area under the truck bed near the rear axle frees every inch of bed space. Consequently, everything necessary to complete a project fits, and crews make just one trip to the jobsite. Also, keep in mind that the need for a spare tire these days is lessened due to options like tire repair sprays.
Available in eight sizes, toroidal tanks are made of steel for durability and coated with baked-on powder to resist corrosion. They’re made for vapor service, meaning liquid propane is pulled from the tank and injected as a vapor into the vehicle’s fuel system.
The tanks arrive ready for installation by an integrator. All valves and fittings are enclosed in a vapor box, an enclosure that goes over the tank’s valve components to provide a vapor seal in case of leakage.
Multiple fitting adjustments are included so the tank can be easily configured for any vehicle. More efficient usage of space means toroidal tanks can provide an economic advantage in terms of total cost of ownership.
Work with your propane autogas integrator to determine the tank shape that makes sense for your internal customers’ use and driving range.
While toroidal tanks are relatively new, they can go a long way to maximizing their investment.
Wayne Powers is alternative fuels general manager for Worthington Industries. Visit www.worthingtonoilandgas.com; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.