Icom North America, a supplier of alternative fuel systems and tanks for commercial and passenger vehicles, believes there will be an increase in “green collar” jobs as vehicle manufacturers embrace liquefied propane, natural gas and other alternative fuels.
Ralph Perpetuini, CEO of Icom North America, said his company is seeing increased interest from OEMs in Icom’s JTG (injection traction gas) propane-vehicle systems and natural gas systems. The largest users in the U.S. currently are school and shuttle buses, as well as light-and medium-duty trucks.
“OEM interest in propane is growing,” he said. To demonstrate the versatility of this fuel, Icom North America and CleanFUEL USA of Georgetown, Tex., recently converted a Saturn Vue hybrid from gasoline-electric to propane-electric.
“Any gasoline-or diesel-powered vehicle can be modified to use propane or natural gas,” Perpetuini said. “With the proper use of alternative fuels, we can enjoy increased energy security, increased employment in an emerging sector, and decreased emissions.”
He said 4,000 propane filling stations currently serve some 170,000 propane vehicles and 1,100 natural gas stations serve 150,000 natural gas vehicles. These figures are expected to rise as commercial-and passenger-vehicle markets appreciate the cost and environmental benefits of propane and natural gas.
“Propane and natural gas vehicles provide a ‘clean’ balance of fuel economy, performance and dramatically reduced emissions,” Perpetuini explained. “Icom’s JTG liquid-propane injection application is a fully-integrated, dedicated or bi-fuel engine system designed in harmony with OEM gasoline engines.
As gasoline increases in price, propane and natural gas continue to have a cost advantage, with more than 90 percent of the nation’s propane and natural gas coming from U.S. and Canadian sources, further reducing dependence on foreign oil.