HBO. Pluses and minuses, myths and reality. Is it worth to put? Common mistakes and more.
Especially for the gasman, as well as for those who for one reason or another seriously thinking about installing HBO on your engine, decided to write this article, I hope it will be useful. I will be happy to answer any questions in the comments.
The advantages of gas compared to gasoline.
1. environmental friendliness. Gas, both in form and content, has less various resins and impurities, compared to gasoline, which is why the products of its combustion are much more environmentally friendly and cause less harm to the environment. 2. Engine oil change interval. As a consequence of the first point, the engine oil darkens and liquefies much slower, and we can talk about a longer replacement interval. Well and in general, the engine will be cleaner. 3. Economy. At relatively the same consumption (plus or minus), the use of gas, of course, more economically justified because of its cost (about 2 times cheaper than gasoline).
The above listed advantages are certainly indisputable, which few can refute, but alas, they do not outweigh all the minuses, which will be discussed below.
The engine is factory designed for a certain fuel, moreover, for a certain octane number, respectively, all the nodes and units are designed for it, and if you use a different type of fuel, without doing anything to the iron itself you get a number of negative phenomena.
1. Reduced power. In my opinion, the most harmless disadvantage that you get as a result of the introduction of HBO on your engine. This effect is most noticeable on small volume engines (up to two liters). What does it have to do with? Gas has a higher octane number (105-110), another stoichiometry (1:15,6), respectively, with the same compression ratio, which is designed for a lower octane fuel, the gas burns longer and worse. Yes, the modern 4th and 5th generation GTO partially compensate for this problem, but the compression ratio is a physical parameter, and the electronics can not correct it. 2. 2. Heating of exhaust, burnt-out valves. Gas burns slower, the combustion temperature is higher, respectively, the load on the exhaust manifold is higher, and not all blocks are made of cast iron nowadays. Valves are getting hotter, but since nobody ever gets into the engine and does not increase thermal gap, that is why burnt-out occurs. 3. Explosion. Probably no one needs to explain that tanks with flammable gases, and even under pressure are explosive. Compared to gas, gasoline is times safer from this point of view. And no matter what happens, heat, or a severe impact during an accident, it will all potentially lead to disastrous results. Again, the impact radius of a burning gasoline and an exploding gas cylinder differ significantly. The pressure in a tank with methane is about 200-250 atmospheres, and if this thing explodes, then you are not even a wet spot remains, which is why methane tanks on buses are always placed on the roof, so that in the case of an explosion has damaged the roof and may break the glass, but in the cabin and under the bottom no one puts. The pressure in the propane tank about 10-15 atmospheres, which is significantly lower, but still not nice. 4. Making changes in the construction of the vehicle. Perhaps most of this applies to Russia, I do not know as with this in other countries. In general, to all the bureaucratic nonsense, which is so much at us, feel free to add another one. the need to make changes in the design of vehicles, introducing marks about HBO in the license plate, the mandatory verification of equipment every two years, which also costs money. 5. Reduction of usable space in your car. This directly relates to the installation of a cylinder with gas on the car, it will in any case eat up useful space in the trunk (well, unless of course you put it on the roof). Especially this deficiency will show itself in hatchbacks and station wagons. For example, in one of the most beloved by gasmen car INFINITI FX, which is bought mostly by beggars with the last money, and who simply can not properly maintain it, a gas cylinder takes the lion’s share of the already small trunk. Although, I have seen special cylinders, which are put instead of the spare. Questionable solution, because the stock is still a necessary thing, and the volume of these cylinders is small. 6. Gas leakages. Very dangerous and harmful to humans, which, unfortunately, takes place, and to inhale gas fumes is very unhealthy. 7. Problems with starting in cold weather. This point is largely due to the illiterate installation of HBO, namely the fact that the geometry of the engine is not changed. It is possible to start with gas in winter, but the compression ratio should be appropriate. 8. Maintenance of the spark plugs. This is a minor disadvantage, but it still has a place.
The gas temperature is higher, so the load on the spark plugs is also higher, the center electrode melts faster, so it is necessary to check the gap of the spark plugs every 10 thousand, and adjust it if necessary, or put iridium plugs or special gas plugs. Not everyone will unscrew and check the spark plugs every 10 thousand. 9. Gas can be used on low-speed engines. Even the new generation GTB at the onset of peak rpm 4-5 thousand already electronically switches to gasoline in automatic mode. Accordingly, gas as fuel is seldom, if ever, used in tuning. They drive everything on gasoline, nitromethane, alcohol, but not on gas. 10. Well, and the installation of gas on the car costs some money, very often not small. And you need to sit down and think hard, and calculate, and when you have it all will pay off. Propane equipment now costs around 30 thousand rubles, and methane equipment costs around 60 thousand.
Myths about HBO.
Well, of the most striking I can recall only reducing the noise of the engine at least 2 times. Nonsense, which from the physical point of view is not based on anything.
In general it should be said that if everything was so cool with gas, then long ago everyone would drive on it, but it does not happen.
Is it worth to put HBO on the car?
If you use the car for commercial purposes, if you have high daily and monthly mileage, if your city and region is well developed network of gas stations, you can put gas. It is better, of course, to make a competent installation, which includes a change in compression ratio. By the way, above I did not say what gives a higher compression ratio, and it gives a very important moments, such as reducing gas consumption and bringing the normal dynamic engine characteristics, as the combustion process is correct.
In the end, of course, everyone decides for himself, to put or not HBO in his bucket, and if a man has fallen visor, no even the most reinforced concrete arguments will not change his mind. For adequate people, everything is counted in terms of money, as well as in the process of analyzing whether the pluses outweigh all the cons that have clogged gas. More precisely, whether the savings on fuel and environmental concerns are worth all these hassles and risks?
Switching back to gasoline: why converting your car to natural gas is turning from a benefit to absurdity
Fears are turning into reality: already this spring, prices for propane-butane have reached the point of no return, when driving on gas has become about as expensive as driving on gasoline. But summer keeps throwing up events, and what will happen at the end of the year is an open question. Let’s take a look at why converting your car to gas right now is an absurd idea and why it has come to this.
What is going on with propane-butane prices?
In order not to get into a panic at the outset, let us state an objective fact: prices for propane-butane, or LPG (liquefied hydrocarbon gases) are highly volatile – that is, they fluctuate significantly throughout the year. For example, looking at the entire year 2020, in January the weighted average price of LPG on the St. Petersburg International Mercantile Exchange was 18,700 rubles per ton, by April it had dropped below 9,000 rubles per ton, and in June it had jumped to nearly 32,000 rubles per ton. Against the backdrop of gasoline prices, the dynamics are incredible: for comparison, AI-92 in 2020 went from 46 to 36 thousand rubles per ton and back to 48 thousand. That is, the “covid spring” was able to shake the price of gasoline by 20%, after which it regained its position. Gas, in the meantime, first halved in price and then almost quadrupled in price. This year the price records have been renewed: in spring a ton of liquefied gas cost over 36 thousand rubles and at the beginning of August it reached the historical maximum of 53.3 thousand rubles.
For retail customers this means that the price per liter of fuel has increased by almost one third since the beginning of this year and twice compared to 2020. A year ago propane-butane cost about 16 rubles per liter, but at the beginning of this year it exceeded 20 rubles. But now the price of LPG varies greatly depending on the distribution network: somewhere you can find prices of 31-34 rubles per liter, and somewhere they have broken through a new ceiling, reaching 42 (!) rubles per liter. Price tags at gas stations are sometimes rewritten several times a week, adding 3-5 rubles at a time. Gasoline against this background is an example of stability – since the price of AI-92 has gone up “only” by 3.5 rubles since the beginning of the year, from 42 to 45.5 rubles.
Why is that?
In fact, the prices of LPG have been rising steadily since the beginning of the summer. The reasons were quite common: seasonal increases in demand and export demand. But August managed to break the records not without help. The key role in the current surge was played by a fire at the Gazprom Dobycha Urengoi plant that occurred on the night of August 4-5. As a result, the supply of gas condensate from the plant almost completely stopped, and it is still far from reaching normal volumes. The government responded to the problem by ordering the Ministry of Energy to redirect to the domestic market about 40 thousand tons of LPG, which were intended for export. But of course this doesn’t make up for the volumes that the Urengoy plant was producing – over 200,000 tons per month. In the last week the measures that have been taken, together with a gradual increase in the supply of gas, have made it possible to reverse the trend, reducing the price of a ton of LPG to 47 thousand roubles. However, no one can guarantee that the downward trend will be stable.
The price dynamics for propane-butane can be absolutely any, remaining only within the framework of market conditions. The state is not legally involved in regulating prices and does not limit, for example, the maximum selling price per liter at the gas station. Moreover, unlike gasoline, the price of which consists of more than 70% excise taxes and duties and therefore is more stable, gas is more strongly influenced by the market, since it is the correlation between supply and demand that determines the final retail price. This also explains the wide dispersion of retail prices: while major players like Gazprom can afford to sell gas for 32 rubles a liter, small chains, which initially buy LPG at a markup, are forced to set higher prices, up to the previously mentioned 40-42 rubles a liter.
What does this mean for motorists?
Consumer math is quite simple: propane-butane remains a profitable fuel as long as it costs about half the price of gasoline. After all, the lower cost of fuel is partially offset by higher consumption: depending on the modernity of gas equipment, modes of operation, the specific machine and other factors, gas consumption can be 15-30% higher than gasoline. Based on this, the minimum threshold of benefit – about 70% of the cost of gasoline, and now it is actually passed. After all, even if you set aside the extremes in the form of 40-42 rubles per liter of gas and take the average figure of 32 rubles per liter, the cost of 92-gasoline at 45.5 rubles per liter of gas price is from it 71%.
The picture becomes even clearer when calculating the cost per kilometer using different types of fuel. For example, for a car with the average gasoline consumption of 10 liters per hundred kilometers these very one hundred kilometers will cost 450 rubles, and the price per kilometer is 4.5 rubles. If you take the consumption of propane-butane at 13 liters, then at a price of 32 rubles per liter it gives 4.2 rubles per kilometer. If the fuel consumption is 14 liters per hundred, then the economy disappears completely: the cost per kilometer will be equal to 4.5 rubles for both gasoline and gas. And increasing the cost of gas by at least one ruble leads to the absurd situation, when driving on gas becomes more expensive than driving on gasoline.
If you take into account not only the cost of fuel, but also other overhead costs, the profitability of gas is questionable even now. For example, cylinders have a lifetime and need to be replaced over time, the system requires maintenance of the reducer, nozzles and other elements, as well as regular replacement of the gas filter. Of course, in the long run paying a couple thousand for repairing the injectors and a couple hundred for the filter is not a problem, but if you add all these costs, including very rare but expensive ones, to the cost of mileage over a year or several years, the results can be unexpected.
But most of all, the rise in price of LPG has affected those who have recently installed a gas turbine or only plan to install it. The cost of a set of installed LPG equipment ranges around 50,000 rubles for an ordinary four-cylinder engine, and in addition, several thousand rubles should be paid for its registration in the traffic police with the inclusion of marks in the documents. Thus, with last year’s price of gas at 18 rubles per liter compared to 45 in gasoline and consumption of 14 liters per hundredth could pay for the installation of HBO for 30 thousand kilometers, or 2-3 years of normal operation. The increase in gas prices to 23 rubles at the beginning of this year stretched recoupment to 47 thousand kilometers, or 3-5 years. Well, with the retail value of 32 rubles per liter investing 60 thousand rubles in the installation of HBO and does not make sense at all, because saving 300 rubles per thousand kilometers mileage, pay off his simply impossible.
And what about methane?
Compressed methane also seems much more stable against the backdrop of multiple increases in the cost of liquefied gas. It is worth remembering, however, that this stability is also due to the market framework. Some may remember that in 1993, as part of a program to replace motor fuels with natural gas, it was decided to limit the marginal selling price of compressed natural gas to half the price of A-76 gasoline sold in that region, but that ruling was repealed in 2015. So while the price of natural gas for households is controlled by the FAS, this does not apply to the operation of CNG stations (automobile gas-filling compressor stations).
However, so far the price of methane is more stable than that of propane-butane. If in 2018 a cubic meter cost about 14 rubles, in 2020 – 17 rubles, and now it has reached the mark of 20 rubles. Against the background of LPG, which rose in retail prices by more than 30% since the beginning of the year, the price increase by a quarter in three years is a very good result.
In addition, the government and Gazprom are providing additional incentives to convert cars to methane. In 2020 there were programs offered to subsidize the installation of methane gas equipment: 60% was to be subsidized by the state and another 30% was assumed by Gazprom. This same scheme was used several years ago to sell factory-made bi-fuel versions of the Lada Vesta and Largus, which with the subsidies were only 30-50 thousand rubles more expensive than regular gasoline cars. However, the programs for subsidizing the conversion of cars in many regions are still in effect, and their conditions can be found on the website of the Ministry of Energy.