Automotive LPG Fuel

Summary: Sketch of autombile LPG conversion; basic description; how-to basics; photos; Impco info; some sources given. Data/experience in last few years not yet in here, including substantial road experience; ETA is Summer/Fall 96. Starting in 1988 I embarked on a project to convert my car to burn LPG (aka propane) instead of gasoline. The little I knew of it at that time indicated it would be a great motor fuel. I built an engine for LPG in '88 (basically just a complete, clean rebuild, with high-compression and a funny camshaft), and in '90 I built the car itself. I wrote it up as a small booklet, "Do-It-Yourself Automotive LPG Conversion", and amazingly, sold about 1200 copies in two years mostly through the Real Goods Trading Company (Ukiah, CA).

That booklet, slightly updated (not the rewrite it needs) with the information gained since then (this written in March 1994) is presented here, along with some additional technical information I've been able to gather. For something that's been around for so long (since the 20's or 30's) there's amazingly little information floating around out there of a practical nature. I started out cold, and learned mostly the hard way. All of the information in the booklet turned out to be correct.

My 1994 conclusion to the question, is LPG any good as a motor fuel? An unqualified yes. It's nearly non-polluting (mainly carbon dioxide, and less of that per-mile) and cheap. But not profitable for oil companies. Read on if you care. There might even be enough information for you to duplicate my efforts, for the very few people who care.

All of the technical information is for IMPCO equipment, which makes most of the equipment for vehicular applications (as opposed to stationary engines or lawnmower type stuff).

Automotive LPG Fuel

Table of Contents

Net resources on LPG/propane

  • Various LPG organizations contact information.
  • Overview of practical physics of LPG as a motor fuel, an excellent top-level technical comparison of spark-ignition automotive fuels. This is such an excellent document I made a local copy, because I couldn't bear the thought of the original becoming unreachable. (And one of the things that makes some aspects of copyright complex on electronic media.)
  • DOE's Alternative Fuel Data Center An excellent example of public data -- this site has been growing continuously over the past year, and it's now quite substantial and -- gulp -- useful. Contains tons of resources, list of refueling sites, technology, laws, etc.
  • The Centre for Alternative Transportation Fuels, operated by BC Research Inc.(BCRI) in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, maintains a GIGANTIC list of citations to A.F. articles, sources, tables, etc.
  • Winter weekly fuel prices for propane, heating oil, etc.
  • FAQ on gasoline; chemistry, use, physics of combustion, etc. Pretty thorough.
  • Exhaustive FAQ on gasoline.
  • BCC Clean Transportatation Technology News, newsy info on clean fuels projects, technology and related, and Canada and US of A, written in a breezy but dense press-release style, bullshit level seems low, enough tech info to tell what's going on.
  • "Alternative fuels: future necessity or future nuisance" (sic) by SMU student John Lehman contains some juicy pointers to AFDC sites that are not responding -- presumably a victim of those DC scumbags' game of budgetary chicken. Now what does the 'future nuisance' reference mean?
  • Gas Equipment Manufacturers web index lists a few large, dull corpses together. Possibly useful if you're trying to locate equipment.
  • Well-edited transcript of EGO (Exhaust Gas Oxygen) sensor hackery.
  • LPG information sources maintained by DOE's AFDC (see above).
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