Is your fleet ready to upgrade to the new quick-connect refueling mechanism?
NFPA 58 – the industry benchmark for safe LP Gas usage to prevent failures, leaks, and tampering – has new guidelines for 2020 that will change the autogas refueling process. Fleet managers have to change over, too, in order to stay compliant with the directives.
For decades now, the industry has used a variety of valves, such as the ACME, for refueling propane vehicles. But the propane industry will now have to adopt the K15 connection for all future autogas vehicles that have been reinstated into service, purchased, or converted after January 1, 2020.
Why the K15?
The two main reasons behind retiring the ACME in favor of the K15 are ease of use and air pollution.
The ACME valve has a threaded connection to autogas-run vehicles, which isn’t always easy to engage. Several tries may be necessary before the connection is secure, which makes the refueling process less efficient.
The second factor that motivated the NFPA to mandate this changeover is leakage. While users are fumbling to connect to the ACME valve’s threaded opening, gas or vapors from the autogas (a flammable hydrocarbon gas mixture of propane and butane) escape into the air. This both impacts the environment and causes drivers to breathe in fumes.
The K15 offers a faster and safer refueling process, and according to AAG (Alliance AutoGas), releases 76% less fugitive emissions.
“We have seen a significant increase in autogas gallons used for fleets that have switched from the ACME to the quick-connect,” said Jessica Johnson, Partner and Projects Liaison for AAG in a press release last year. “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.”
Following the Code’s New Guidelines
The NFPA 58 code is not retroactive to vehicles produced before January 1, 2020. However, if a fleet acquires a new propane vehicle or performs a conversion after that date, the K15 becomes mandatory.
“The quick-connect K15 is an exciting advancement in the autogas industry,” said David Kennedy, Director of Autogas Design at AAG. “It provides an easier process compared to what was being used previously and is more environmentally friendly. We have had elderly drivers from our Alliance AutoGas customers struggle with lining up the ACME connector and getting it to thread in the past. Having the K15 allows drivers to refuel with greater ease.”
To help fleets with the transition, adaptors are available as a makeshift solution. However, users should contact their fuel provider to get a permanent one. Vehicles running with the adaptor risk losing access to public propane refueling stations designed for the 2020 regulation.