LPG and BioLPG – improving forklift truck efficiency

Initiatives such as the Renewable Energy Directive and Paris Agreement have provided businesses with a blueprint on combatting climate change. However, reports such as the Carbon Disclosure Project suggest that most large companies' plans to cut carbon emissions are insufficient in scope.

Consequently, these companies are looking to improve the sustainability of their supply chains. For forklift truck (FLT) fleet managers, adopting liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and BioLPG as their fuel of choice can lead to environmental and commercial benefits, says Andy Kellett, FLT Specialist at Calor.

Our world is undergoing a dramatic shift in green policy, which is being keenly felt in business. With a renewed focus on sustainability and greener, environmentally conscious initiatives, many organisations are looking to reduce carbon emissions across their own operations.

As a result, organisations involved in the supply chain of major businesses are expected to adopt a like-minded approach. This includes companies in the handling, storage and distribution industries, many of whom operate FLT fleets.

Of the many options available for FLT fleet managers looking to reduce emissions, considering alternative fuels is one of the most effective ways of doing so. LPG stands out over alternatives such as diesel and electric for cutting costs, improving operational efficiencies and reducing carbon emissions.

LPG vs. diesel

A standout benefit of LPG when compared to diesel is that it emits 98 per cent less particulate matter. As well as being more environmentally friendly, this means that LPG-fuelled FLTs are able to operate in sensitive production environments, such as food and pharmaceutical manufacturing sites. A further benefit is that when fitted with a three-way catalyst, hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions drop to virtually zero.

The benefits of LPG are not only environmental – it is also more commercially attractive than diesel. Indeed, according to figures supplied to Calor by leading FLT original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), cost savings of up to 24 per cent can be generated when switching from diesel to LPG. These figures, calculated using typical cost and performance parameters for 1.5 and 2.5 tonne trucks running on eight and 16-hour shifts, show that emphasising sustainability does not necessarily have to come at a greater cost.

LPG also has further logistical advantages over diesel. For example, LPG evaporates on contact with air without the risk of spillage or consequent clean-up costs or fines associated with diesel. Furthermore, LPG-fuelled FLTs are up to 10db quieter than their diesel-powered alternatives, creating a better working environment that is more conscious of staff health and safety. Improved noise levels are also helpful for companies situated in built-up areas, where noise pollution must be kept to a minimum.

LPG vs. electricity

These practicalities also demonstrate why LPG is a more convenient FLT fuel than electricity. For example, electric-powered FLTs may not be able to function both outdoors and indoors, and may suffer from reduced performance when faced with low temperatures, uneven surfaces and steep gradients.

FLTs that use electric power are also subject to increased downtime when recharging, or when batteries need to be replaced. In contrast, FLTs using LPG can be refuelled and made fully operational in minutes. When combined with the fact that electric-powered FLTs run on batteries that are expensive to replace, LPG looks the more financially-attractive option.

Further benefits with BioLPG

Calor has also developed a new fuel created from renewable feedstocks, such as organic plant materials, vegetable oil and animal fats. This fuel – BioLPG – was created to help companies cut carbon emissions in line with the UK government's legislative and environmental agenda.

Calor BioLPG offers carbon savings of between 20 and 32 per cent. This is based on a blend of 40 per cent BioLPG and 60 per cent conventional propane.

Calor BioLPG can also operate as a 'drop-in' fuel. As it is chemically identical to conventional LPG, organisations do not need to change their existing LPG equipment or supply infrastructure to reap its benefits. Instead, they can instantly realise the savings generated by BioLPG – savings which, if the organisation has switched from diesel or electric, are amplified even further.

In conclusion, it is clear that adopting LPG or BioLPG makes sense from both a financial and sustainability standpoint. This is because it not only helps companies within major corporate supply chains meet lower carbon emission targets – it also helps realise pronounced financial savings.

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