The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC) recently hosted a beta class in preparation for the release of its revised Propane Vehicle Training.

Held June 21-23 at the NAFTC headquarters in Morgantown, W. Va., the course was taught by National Instructor Mark Schmidt. Attendees included University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH) Automotive Division Head Steven Klausing, ICOM North America representatives Albert Venezio and Mike Stone and Transfer Flow Inc. employees Mark Forwalter and Bill Gaines.

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ICOM North America Technical Support Manager Mike Stone, left, explains the components of a propane tank, valve and liquid injection system during the beta Propane Vehicle Training course at the NAFTC headquarters. Listening are Transfer Flow representatives Bill Gaines and Mark Forwalter, UNOH Automotive Division Head Steven Klausing and NAFTC National Instructor Mark Schmidt. Credit: NAFTC

Schmidt compared the beta course to a dress rehearsal because it provides the opportunity to perfect the material.

“As an instructor, the beta class helps me to establish flow in my presentation and lets me know how much time I have for each topic,” he explained. “It allows me to see if interaction prevents me from meeting the time requirements.”

A large component of the beta course is to obtain attendees’ feedback on the material and the corresponding PowerPoint presentations.

“We want to know, ‘Are the slides reflecting the best subjects on a particular page of the manual?’” Schmidt noted. “We ask them to evaluate what’s on the pages and slides. Attendees make notes and help us by sharing their expertise and their knowledge.”

For this most recent beta class, Klausing – a subject matter expert on propane after many years of teaching on the alternative fuel – represented the NAFTC’s National Training Centers. A new NAFTC small business member, Transfer Flow specializes in customized fuel systems and conversions.

In addition, ICOM North America, leaders in propane injection systems, provided a bi-fuel propane, gasoline vehicle for the training. The car, a Chrysler 300C 5.7 Hemi, was equipped with JTG, ICOM’s liquid propane injection system.

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NAFTC Assistant Director of Training and Curriculum Development Micheal Smyth, right, and Executive Director Al Ebron, second from right, look under the hood of a bi-fuel Chrysler 300C 5.7 Hemi that runs on propane and gasoline. Also pictured are NAFTC National Instructor Mark Schmidt, left, and ICOM North America Technical Support Manager Mike Stone. Credit: NAFTC

“The liquid propane system has many advantages over other propane systems,” noted Stone, ICOM North America’s technical support manager. “We inject the fuel in a liquid state, rather than letting it become a vapor. This has a very significant cooling effect. It closely simulates what gasoline does and drastically increases the efficiency.”

A long-time supporter of alternative fuels with many years of experience servicing alternative fuel vehicles, Stone complimented the NAFTC’s training efforts.

“When I look around and see who’s doing training and what it consists of, there’s not much there when it comes to alternative fuels,” he added. “To have the NAFTC step up to the plate and provide manuals and books for technicians, I believe that helps the transportation sector become a little more confident when it comes to alternative fuels. Technicians see that there are others out there who have experience with alternative fuel vehicles, know how they work and go into some technical detail about them. It takes the hocus pocus effect out of it; it’s not magic, just physics.”

Venezio, chairman of ICOM North America, agreed. “The Propane Vehicle Training is a great opportunity,” he noted. “I’d love to see it in all the colleges. We want to grow our partnership with the NAFTC. We work with a number of colleges, and we think it’s great for the industry. What the NAFTC is doing is a big missing part of the industry, a piece that needs to be done.”

Schmidt and NAFTC Assistant Director of Training and Curriculum Development Micheal Smyth thanked ICOM North America for bringing the vehicle to the training and allowing the participants to see it up close.

“Having the bi-fuel vehicle on site during the beta course was extremely valuable,” Smyth said. “The attendees and NAFTC employees were able to inspect the injection system and learn how the vehicle switches between propane and gasoline.”

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The propane sticker on the Chrysler 300C 5.7 Hemi lets others know that the vehicle runs on an alternative fuel. Credit: NAFTC

The revised course will give automotive technicians an overview of propane, technology, components and systems. Supported by hands-on experience, the training program features instruction in layout, maintenance, safety, and emissions controls.

After finishing the Propane Vehicle Training, technicians will be able to:

  • Compare propane with the other alternative fuel options;
  • Describe basic engine operations on gaseous fuels;
  • Discuss incentives, regulations and government policies;
  • Build skills in propane system installation of tanks, regulators, vaporizers, mixers, electrical wiring and more;
  • Compare and contrast current manufacturers’ systems;
  • Become adept in proper filling procedures;
  • Analyze and compare various fuel exhaust emissions;
  • Describe the safety procedures for vehicles and shop facilities;
  • Perform steady-state and transient drive cycle tests on dynamometers; and
  • Use a final conversion checklist.

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