Scientists are testing the first Vietnamese-built motorbikes and mini-buses that run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in the hope of reducing high pollution levels.
Professor and Rector of Da Nang Technology College Bui Van Ga has worked over the past five years to study and manufacture carburettor engines for motorbikes and mini-buses using both LPG and petrol.
The vehicles will save 20-40 on fuel costs and will significantly reduce the amount of toxic gases emitted into the air.
Home of initiative
Mr Ga encountered the LPG automobiles in France during his study trip in 1994 was inspired to introduce these “clean” vehicles into Vietnam.
Coming back to his homeland in 1997, Mr Ga began studying the use of LPG instead of petrol in the small and high speed internal combustion engines used for motorbikes. His mission was to create a little engine that ran on both LPG and petrol, which could be equipped on motorbikes.
He recalls having to carry a cumbersome gas tank with his motorbike during the testing period. The gas tank frightened his wife and children so much that they never went out with him and he received no support from his colleagues.
“These troubles didn’t bother my passion for the project,” Mr Ga said, “I kept on seeking new technological measures to tackle the problem.”
Return for efforts
Using the principle of LPG system in automobiles, Mr Ga reconstructed the motorbike’s petrol-run carburettor to a new carburettor, which uses a valve to switch between LPG and petrol.
The newly transformed fuel system was tested on his Honda 110cc showing satisfactory results. There have been no changes to the structure or engine of the motorbike and the new carburettor was designed to be neatly installed inside the body of the vehicle.
The high concentration of CO (carbon oxide) and HCL (hydrogen cloride) produced by LPG is 80 less than gases produced by a petrol engine. Therefore, the use of LPG will be more environmentally friendly and will protect motorbike drivers from hazardous fumes, Mr Ga said. Furthermore, engines run on LPG are more economical than engines running on petrol. A motorbike can run 100km on about 1 kg of LPG.
Last year, Mr Ga’s new LPG motorbike was granted a patent by the Vietnam Office of Intellectual Property and now is awaiting approval from Vietnam Registration Office. According to Mr Ga, any mechanical factories can manufacture his new carburettor with home-made materials. “The motorbike driver spends about VND1mil on replacing the carburettor used of petrol for that run on LPG/petrol,” he said, “I try my best to help reduce costs for the customer.”
The most challenging issue now is the gas prices for motorbikes. There are already several automatic LPG stations for designed for taxis in Vietnam, mainly in HCM City.
Being aware of the benefits of LPG, the gas branch office Petrolimex Da Nang has agreed to build a LPG station for motorbikes and automobiles in the near future.
Mr Ga has signed a contract with Hai Thanh Mechanical Company, HCM City to produce his international standard gas tanks for vehicles using LPG/petrol.
The Da Nang University’s Environment Protection and Researching Centre in co-ordination with Da Nang Automobile Mechanical and Electricity Equipment Company has invested in a manufacturing line of motorbikes using LPG/petrol.
Mr Ga will visit Hanoi this month to make a proposal to Ngo Gia Tu Automobile Plant to co-operate in the manufacture of the LPG/petrol-used carburettor.
After such progress with motorbikes. Prof Ga and his colleagues kept on researching the possibility of applying the LPG/petrol system to mini-buses. However, said Mr Ga, it would be impossible to apply the LPG/petrol carburettor used in French automobiles, with an average speed of 130km per hour, to the vehicles on Vietnam’s road system.
The new LPG/petrol carburettor was tested on a Japanese-built Daihatsu van with success and Mr Ga’s team named it “Greenbus”.
Greenbus ran smoothly on its trial run, covering different terrain and saving 20 more fuel than a petrol engine. Mr Ga believes that using LPG/petrol carburettor can reduce between 75-90 of CO, and 40-50 of HCL in exhaust fumes. Twenty Greenbuses are expected to hit the roads in Da Nang city this year.
Vietnam is facing ever increasing traffic problems, causing heavy air pollution from car exhausts and high fuel consumption. Mr Ga hoped his work can be a key solution for this issue.