Using LPG to replace gasoline in boats

By Keith Henderson at November 07, 2010 18:26
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The city of Venice, Italy has been struggling with pollution from boats for a number or years. Not only is the wash damaging the fabric of the buildings, the problem of exhaust pollution from boats needs to be resolved. While changes have been introduced affecting the many commercial vessels that service the city’s everyday needs and wash reducing hull designs adopted, most of which are diesel powered, there are some 20,000 vessels using the city’s canals and lagoon that are privately owned recreation boats. Most of them are gasoline powered by outboard, sterndrive or inboard and something needed to be done about the level of emissions they produce.

Under a European Commission project, administered by the Venice Energy Agency, 20 per cent of the gasoline fleet, some 4,000 vessels, will be targeted for conversion to LPG as a fuel instead of gasoline.

The purpose of the conversion is to reduce CO2 emissions and make a significant reduction of harmful emissions, in particular hydrocarbons (HC), volatile organic compounds (VOC) and the carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH.) In an extremely sensitive environment like the Venice lagoon, an additional benefit of getting away from gasoline is the reduction of water pollution caused by spillage of gasoline into the water through careless refueling.

A major stumbling block to the introduction of LPG as a marine fuel was the simple fact that there were no marine LPG stations in Venice! This has however now been addressed with the opening of the first LPG facility earlier this year. It is hoped that a further three LPG refueling stations will follow to ensure adequate coverage for LPG powered boats.

Although some form of subsidy was considered for the costs of conversion from gasoline to LPG,
under the marvellous expression of “the self-incentivating cost/benefit ratio of LPG use” it is hoped that a subsidy will not be required and that the conversions will gain popularity due to the simple fact that in Italy, LPG is half the price of gasoline!

Refueling the onboard LPG tank is straightforward and uses a standard automotive connector.
The filler is located in the boat well so that any escaping gas goes overboard.

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