AmeriPride’s Topeka Fleet Taps Propane

Posted March 25, 2015 at 5:55 pm

AmeriPride Services Inc. recently has piloted a propane conversion program in its Topeka, KS, operation, according to a local news report.

The switch from gasoline to propane has cut carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 15,000 lbs. to date, or the equivalent of taking 1.4 passenger cars off the road for a year. Customers increasingly are interested in reducing their carbon footprints, and AmeriPride has made environmental issues a priority, said Ben Saukko, a company spokesman.

The propane conversion has required few changes, says Chad Robertson, chief engineer at the Topeka location. The truck’s system pumps liquid just like traditional gasoline and fills up a tank in just five minutes, compared to older propane systems, which used a vapor and sometimes required an hour to fill. Most of the propane-fueled trucks stay within 150 miles of home base, however, due to a limited number of propane dealers that service trucks and sometimes high fill-up prices.

According to ROUSH CleanTech, which sold the propane vehicles to AmeriPride, Ford can build trucks so that they can be converted to another fuel (propane or compressed natural gas CNG). A technician switches out some parts and updates the truck’s software so it runs well on the new fuel. Todd Mouw, VP sales and marketing, estimates the total conversion cost at about $18,200, but said companies make that up through lower fuel costs. He adds, “The engine lasts as long or longer than it would on gasoline.”

To date, AmeriPride has tried several different transportation ideas, including hybrid gasoline trucks in Toronto and compressed natural gas (CNG) in Oklahoma City and Omaha, NE. The Topeka location rolled out propane in 2013. “We were looking at how we could reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and stabilize what we’re spending” on fuel, said Banny Allison, fleet services manager for AmeriPride. Although they did run into a propane price spike over the winter and delivery issues during the severe winter, overall the pilot was successful. The company expects to replace 10 trucks each at its Sacramento and Fresno locations in California in the near future, and replace other trucks down the line as it comes time to retire them.

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