Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Topeka Location Leads Business' Switch to Propane Trucks

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Topeka Location Leads Business' Switch to Propane Trucks

Article excerpt

Propane usually isn't used for fueling trucks, but a successful switch in Topeka laid out a template for at least one business.

AmeriPride, which does laundry for clients in the health care and hospitality businesses, switched some of the trucks at its Topeka location to propane as part of a pilot program to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions without raising costs.

Chad Robertson, chief engineer at the Topeka location, said most of the propane-fueled trucks stay within 150 miles of their home base, because propane dealers whose primary business isn't trucks sometimes charge high prices to fill them up, if they want that business at all.

"It's few and far between," he said. "There's not a lot of places to fill up."

Otherwise, the propane conversion hasn't required many changes in how they use the trucks, Robertson said. Unlike older propane systems, which used a vapor and sometimes required an hour to fill a tractor, their system pumps a liquid in the same way it would traditional gasoline, and only takes about five minutes to fill a truck's tank, he said.

Banny Allison, fleet services manager for AmeriPride, said different locations tried different transportation ideas, including using hybrid gasoline trucks in Toronto and compressed natural gas in Oklahoma City and Omaha. The Topeka location started trying out propane in fall 2013, he said.

"We were looking at how we could reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and stabilize what we're spending" on fuel, he said.

Three of the five trucks the Topeka location uses were ready to be replaced anyway, Allison said, and the others could be moved to locations that still use diesel. Since the pilot in Topeka was successful, AmeriPride will 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, he said.

Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing for ROUSH CleanTech, which sold the propane vehicles AmeriPride is using, said Ford can build trucks so they can be converted to another fuel, like propane or compressed natural gas. …

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