Clean Cities News

Posted on: February 3, 2017

Question of the Month: How is the propane industry improving the customer fueling experience?

Question of the Month: How is the propane industry improving the customer fueling experience through new technology? 

Answer:

As propane vehicle technology becomes more advanced, propane dispensing infrastructure has evolved along with it. In particular, the propane industry is focusing much of its attention on enhancing the customer fueling experience by installing propane dispensers that are dedicated for vehicle fueling, and by upgrading the propane nozzle technology. The increasingly popular European-style, quick-connect nozzle simplifies the customer fueling experience by connecting to the fuel tank through a snap or quick-connect attachment, rather than a conventional threaded connection. Only after the nozzle is safely connected to the fuel tank will it begin to dispense fuel. This attachment eliminates the threading connection necessary with the conventional Acme nozzle, making propane fueling as easy as conventional gasoline fueling.

With the new nozzle, fueling can be completed using only one hand and without wearing protective goggles and gloves. The quick-connect attachment also results in lower emissions, as it more effectively prevents the release of fuel vapor and fumes. Additionally, the nozzle’s design minimizes the amount of fuel that escapes when the vehicle is done fueling and the connector is detached from the vehicle.

There are many affordable quick-connect nozzle options available on the United States market that meet UL 125 certification requirements (https://standardscatalog.ul.com/standards/en/standard_125). Manufacturers of these UL-certified nozzles include Stäubli and ELAFLEX. These European-style connectors are priced around $1,200, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (https://cleancities.energy.gov/files/u/news_events/document/document_url/96/2015_strategic_planning_propane.pdf). The cost of the connection adapters, or fill valves, required for current fueling infrastructure to be compatible with the European-style nozzle, ranges from $50 to $60. Note that the installation of a new fueling nozzle should always be performed by a qualified technician in order to ensure that it is completed properly.

Many propane retailers are optimistic about the European-style, quick-connect nozzle. In fact, the Propane Education Research Council (PERC) highlights its benefits and encourages the use of this connector through its Quick-Connect Nozzle Incentive Program (http://www.propanecouncil.org/Our-Work/Our-Work-With-Marketers/Incentive-Programs/Quick-Connect-Nozzle-Incentive-Program/). Moving forward, the quick-connect nozzle is a significant step towards streamlining and improving the propane fueling experience.

 

For more information about propane and related fueling infrastructure, see the following resources:

For local questions on propane or alternative fueling, contact Nicholas Jones at njones@aacog.com.

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