There is an Italian company that is involved in developing systems to be applied to outboard engines to achieve bi-fuel gasoline-LPG engines and in some applications also LPG-only engines. It is called Autogas Italy and has already touched 3000 boat conversions to LPG worldwide.
LPG outboard: how bi-fuel LPG works.
How the bi-fuel LPG system works
The system is technically derived from the automotive industry. Draw LPG in liquid phase from the tank (or tanks, if there is more than one). He then converts it to gaseous through a pressure reducer modified for marine use. Gas in the gas phase is sent to the engine and injected cylinder by cylinder by injectors controlled by an electronic control unit. This ECU manages the entire gas system by dialoguing with the engine’s original electronics. The control unit, given the type of use, is completely sealed/resin-tightened to prevent possible water infiltration on electronic components.
Most bi-fuel outboard engines that run on systems produced by the Modena-based company sail in South American countries. Here through collaboration with local companies in the marine industry, technical developments and conversions on engines from 40 up to over 200 HP in power have been carried out.
Why convert one’s outboard to bi-fuel gasoline to LPG (or LPG only)?
The reasons are ecological or economic depending on the type of use of the vessels.
“The ecological aspect,” explain Autogas Italy R&D engineers, “is primary and is of importance in all converted engines. For example, on large fishing farms, the use of boats with LPG-powered engines helps maintain clean waters for a higher-quality, more valuable catch. The economic aspect is more considered, indeed becomes preponderant, by those who use vessels for daily or long-distance transport of people or goods, given the high fuel consumption per hour of travel.”
Autogas Italia has designed and implemented new injection systems that allow bi-fuel engines to maintain the same performance while running on gas while significantly reducing pollutant emissions to the benefit of water.
The situation in Italy
Bi-fuel boats in Italy to date number a few dozen. Some of these are approved directly by the vessel manufacturer.
This is also because the legislation in Italy is unclear.
“Italy has 7,500 km of marine coastline,” say Autogas Italia. and more than 10 navigable lakes, where both recreational and work boats are present. The issue of reducing water pollutant emissions does not seem to find particular interest, except in words, from institutions whether national or regional. There is already European legislation regulating these conversions, but it is very complex in Italy to understand what the correct path might be to be able to convert outboard engines that are already sailing to bi-fuel, without neglecting the refueling aspect.”
Toward green boating
Autogas Italy, in connection with Ecomotive Solutions – Holdim Group – has been engaged in this mission for several years. Suffice it to say that emissions from marine engines, in fact, tend to be concentrated in specific areas such as ports (both coastal and recreational), lakes and rivers, causing high localized levels of pollutants such as CO, HC and NOx.
Through specific programs to reduce them, particularly by containing exhaust emissions from gasoline outboard engines, an important tool would be available to achieve the goal of water conservation as also required by European standards.
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