ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Big changes are coming to autogas refueling in 2020. For decades, there have been a variety of valves available, such as the ACME, which have been utilized for refueling propane vehicles. The new NFPA 58 2020 guidelines, however, specify that the propane industry will adopt the K15 connection for all future autogas vehicles that are reinstated into service, purchased, or converted after January 1, 2020.
Unlike the outgoing ACME valve, which requires a threaded connection to the vehicle, the K15 allows for a much easier quick-connect to a vehicle for refueling. This type of connection dramatically reduces fugitive emissions during the autogas refueling process, making it more environmentally friendly and increasing driver safety.
Fugitive emissions (or gases or vapors that are released due to leaks and other irregular releases of gases) often escape during the autogas refueling process, but the average quick-connect K15 releases 76 percent less fugitive emissions when compared to the ACME connecter. Another benefit of the quick-connect K15 is that it offers an almost identical refueling experience to gasoline or diesel. This familiarity has been proven to increase driver satisfaction with autogas and has shown an increase in gallons pumped as well.
“We have seen a significant increase in autogas gallons used for fleets that have switched from the ACME to the quick-connect. It creates a fueling experience that they are used to and is less intimidating, because they don’t have to put on the protective equipment. Our customers are much more confident in their refueling, and can go about business as usual,” said Jessica Johnson, partner and projects liaison for Alliance AutoGas.
What does this mean for propane fleets currently using the ACME refueling connection? Nothing now, until you receive a new vehicle or have a new vehicle converted. The NFPA 58 code change is not retroactive to vehicles produced before January 1, 2020.
However, when a fleet receives a new propane vehicle or performs a conversion after January 1, 2020, the K15 is a requirement for that vehicle. This could create problems for existing refueling infrastructure, should your fleet solely use the ACME valve.
To help fleets through this transition, adaptors are readily available, though adaptors are not considered a long-term solution. Any existing ACME equipped propane vehicle can quickly and easily be retro-fitted to the new K15 refueling valve, which is the preferred solution for fleets. That’s because it allows them to benefit from the advancements in propane vehicle refueling, which increases their ease of operation and safety.
David Kennedy, director of Autogas Design at Alliance AutoGas, said “The quick-connect K15 is an exciting advancement in the autogas industry. It provides an easier process compared to what was being used previously and is more environmentally friendly.”
When speaking about how drivers are accepting the new changes, Kennedy adds, “We have had elderly drivers from our Alliance AutoGas customers struggle with lining the ACME connecter and getting it to thread in the past. Having the K15 allows drivers to refuel with greater ease.”
Fleets that are currently operating autogas vehicles should contact their fuel provider to better understand how these new regulations could affect them. Vehicles that are without the K15 connecter risk losing access to public propane refueling stations that are designed for the 2020 regulation. Quick-connect refueling nozzles, adaptors, and K15 refueling valves are readily available from your local propane equipment distributor.
About Alliance AutoGas
Alliance AutoGas (AAG) www.allianceautogas.com is an international network that provides a comprehensive propane autogas solution to light, medium and heavy-duty fleets. Alliance AutoGas is managed by its parent company, Blossman Gas, Inc., the largest privately-owned propane company in the United States.
Alliance AutoGas is comprised of more than 120 independent propane marketers and authorized conversion centers throughout North America. Alliance’s partners are aligned to provide EPA certified propane and propane autogas systems to vehicle fleets and lawn care companies, including the sale of, installation, and ongoing service to keep these systems on the road.