Taxi drivers champion LPG to boost urban air quality

Calor Gas outline in this report how the use of LPG is helping to improve air quality in Birmingham.

A ground-breaking initiative is underway in Birmingham that has seen the unlikely hero of the black cab take centre stage in a pioneering campaign to tackle urban air quality.

LPG as a fuel has long been recognised for being greener than both petrol and diesel and the Birmingham NOx Reduction Champions initiative will see more than 60 black cabs converted to run on cheaper, greener LPG by February 2017.

The Department for Transport Clean Technology fund has committed £500,000 to a partnership between Birmingham City Council and Autogas Limited-approved converter, Harborne Garage in Selly Oak. It is designed to significantly improve air quality in inner cities under the Government’s strategy to introduce Clean Air Zones and bring the country into line with emissions legislation.

Less NOx

A newly converted Euro 6 compliant TX4 black cab running on LPG emits 80% less NOx emissions compared with a normal diesel powered version, in addition to achieving significant reductions of particulate matter, known to be hazardous to health.

The new taxi engines are the result of an 18-month collaboration between the green fleet team at Birmingham City Council, co-ordinated by Autogas Limited, and engine manufacturer Kronenberg Management Systems (KMS) to develop the engine technology, along with European LPG taxi conversion kit experts Vogel and converters Harborne Garages in Birmingham.

Autogas Limited also funded rigorous testing in both the UK and Germany, based on Public Carriage Office (PCO) – Cenex London Taxi drive cycle to ensure that the new taxi engines delivered on emissions targets and would bring Birmingham’s taxis in line with Euro 6 low particulate and low NOx pollution levels.

Retrofit

The conversion team at Harborne Garages was trained to retrofit the new engines, with each conversion costing £8,000 and taking 2.5 days to complete.

Anne Shaw, assistant director for transportation at Birmingham City Council, said: “The fact our city has an ageing fleet of cabs means we need to look at how we can work with drivers to re-profile the vehicles serving customers in the city as their impact on air quality is significant.

Harborne Garage where the conversion to LPG takes place, pictured are: Anne Shaw, assistant director for transportation at Birmingham city council, with Steve White of Harborne Garage

Harborne Garage where the conversion to LPG takes place, pictured are: Anne Shaw, assistant director for transportation at Birmingham city council, with Steve White of Harborne Garage

“Through the funding the council has successfully unlocked from the Government, we’ve been able to play a part in forming links with technology providers and engineers to come up with part of the solution to one of the city’s major public health issues.”

Rob Shuttleworth, chief executive of UKLPG, the trade association for the liquefied petroleum gas industry comments: “The need to tackle urban air pollution is pressing and it is great to see this collaborative initiative, funded by the Clean Vehicle Technology Fund, working so effectively to achieve success in Birmingham.

“The value of LPG as a greener alternative to petrol and diesel has long been recognised in the UK and at around half the price of diesel, it delivers a rapid return on investment for each conversion. The replacement engine also significantly increases the life of the vehicle.”

Network

Mr Shuttleworth added: “The pioneering programme is already attracting the attention of other cities trying to clean up pollution levels, with plans in place to train a national network of approved converters so that LPG taxis can be introduced around the country ahead of the Government’s 2020 deadline.

“With the refuelling infrastructure already in place and well-established, retrofitting hundreds of TX1, TX2 and TX4 diesel taxi cabs with LPG engines is a quick and cost-effective way to cut emissions.

“Dramatic improvements in air quality can also be achieved by reducing the large number of diesel small vans operating in our cities and promoting a mix of cleaner reliable fleets which include LPG and this is another route being explored by local authorities.”

Further information is available on http://www.drivelpg.co.uk/