Why Autogas is Better for the Environment
With millions of car in use worldwide, it is essential that their environmental impact is minimised.
Car manufacturers around the world are striving to create vehicles which are better for the environment than their traditional counterparts.
One solution is LPG, which is better for the environment than petrol and diesel vehicles.
Euro 6 is Driving Improvement
To reduce air pollution, the European Commission first introduced Euro 1 in 1993.
Since then legislation has progressed in a number of steps, resulting in the development of newer and cleaner engine technologies.
The latest step is Euro 6, becoming mandatory in September 2015.
In Australia, the Euro 6 standards will take effect from April/July 2017 and April/July 2018 for all models.
With it, average CO2 emissions need to be below 130g/km across a car company’s entire range.
There are also tighter restrictions on a wide range of pollutants including carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, NOx and particulates.
Euro 6 more than halves the amount of nitrogen oxides that a diesel engine can emit, with a cap of 80mg/km.
Euro 6 is focusing on NOx because it is one of the most harmful greenhouse gases.
It can last up to 150 years, which is significantly longer than other greenhouse gases.
The overall aim of Euro 6 is to reduce auto emissions, thereby limiting the impact on the environment and public health.
The graph below shows the levels of improvement leading to Euro 6:
Graph sourced from carwow.co.uk
How is Euro 6 Achieved?
A number of manufacturers are ahead of the game and already have Euro 6 compliant cars on the market.
Meeting Euro 6 is relatively straightforward for petrol, LPG and hybrid engines.
Ford, for example, will expand the use of its EcoBoost powertrain across more vehicles.
A huge amount of development work has been done by car manufacturers to develop cleaner engine technologies.
As a result, average emissions for carbon dioxide across current manufacturers’ ranges sits at approximately 130g/km, and the aim is to reduce that to 95g/km by 2020.
Considering that the average emissions in 2000 were 180g/km, this is a huge improvement.
Diesel engines present more of a challenge.
Diesel is a bigger culprit than petrol when it comes to nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulates (PM).
Most manufacturers are turning to after-treatment systems such as the Lean NOx trap or Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR), which works with a reduction agent.
This will increase the cost of purchasing and running diesels only and may result in fewer diesel car sales.
But is that a bad thing given that diesel exhaust is a known carcinogen?
Lower Carbon from “Well to Wheel”
LPG is a lower carbon alternative to petrol and diesel.
The LPG molecule has less carbon and releases less carbon when it is used in your vehicle.
EU research which studied emissions levels from nearly 9000 recently manufactured vehicles discovered that LPG vehicles produced approximately 11% less CO2 emissions than other vehicles in the study.
When examined from a “Well to Wheel” perspective, the CO2 benefit is even greater.
This includes emissions associated with the processing and transportation, as well as use.
Diesel CO2 emissions are 29.2% higher than LPG whilst petrol is 26.8% higher than LPG.
NOx emissions can also have serious health consequences for the environment and for public health.
Diesel engines produce about 26% of the total NOx (nitrogen oxides) in outdoor air.
Traditional fuels, and especially diesel, give off high levels of NOx, which react in sunlight to form ozone.
In terms of ozone causing NOx emissions, one diesel vehicle produces 20x the NOx emission levels of an LPG Autogas vehicle.
Ozone is consistently associated with increased severity of asthma symptoms, as well as with new diagnoses of asthma.
LPG cars produce 95% less NOx than diesel engines.
Fine particle emissions which are produced by burning diesel are amongst the worst for your health and the environment.
Fine particles can aggravate both heart and lung diseases and is responsible for premature deaths.
Diesel exhaust contains carbon particles that are extremely small in size, at less than one micron.
These fine particles may be deeply inhaled into the lung and carry with them a collection of attached hazardous compounds.
Organic compounds from diesel exhaust with known toxic and carcinogenic properties adhere the rough surface of the carbon particles and are carried deep into the lungs
Whilst diesel exhaust fumes contain a high amount of fine particles and ultra-fine particles, LPG combustion produces almost no fine particles.
Testing has shown that vehicles which run off of diesel actually emit up to 120 times more fine particles than LPG cars do.
Less Evaporative Emissions
Filling an LPG tank is a fully sealed process, so it is also environmentally beneficial during refuelling.
When filling up with petrol or diesel, chemical vapours escape into the atmosphere and can also be inhaled.
Both petrol and diesel will start to evaporate if they are left exposed to the open air, and both of these engine types are likely to lose a fuel through evaporation during the refuelling.
Reduction in Consumables Use
LPG Autogas engines have lower maintenance requirements and suffer less wear and tear from the combustion process than do petrol and diesel engines.
Consumables, such as spark plugs or oil changes, actually need to be changed less frequently.
As well as saving you money on new parts and labour, this can reduce the amount of waste materials that end up in landfills.
In the unlikely event that LPG is spilled, it causes no ground or water contamination.
LPG simply evaporates and dissipates.
The same cannot be said for petrol and diesel.
Petrol and diesel spills are both major risks of both ground and water contamination.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that modern petrol tanks are plastic and easily ruptured in an accident.
Three important points:
1. Using Autogas creates appreciably less carbon dioxide (CO2) than unleaded petrol.
2. LPG cars also produce 95% less ozone and smog causing NOx than diesel engines.
3. One of the key environmental advantages of Autogas over diesel, as well as petrol, is the near-absence of particulate matter (PM) emissions.
So, LPG is superior to petrol and diesel in all three of the critical areas affecting air pollution.
The adoption of Euro 6 in Australia and the “rediscovery” of LPG as the cleanest readily available alternative fuel can only serve to benefit Australia and our air quality.
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The information in this article is derived from various sources and is believed to be correct at the time of publication. However, the information may not be error free and may not be applicable in all circumstances.