warm thoughts

From National Propane Gas Association Bobtail Reports

Bottom Line: DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) soliciting public input on how the agency can improve the clarity of the regulations associated with electronic logging devices (ELDs).

(Note that an ANPRM is only an action to obtain input for potential future rulemakings and not an action to propose changes to the current regulations.) The agency is seeking this input based on experience and lessons learned now that ELDs have been in use for the last several years. ELDs are only required for long-haul operations, typically facilitated by transport trucks. They are not required for short-haul operations, which are typically facilitated by bobtail trucks.

FMCSA is seeking comments on the following issues:

Applicability of ELDs to pre-2000 engines;
Addressing ELD malfunctions;
Removal Process – e.g., when an ELD provider goes out of business or does not keep their information current;
Technical Specifications – e.g., the impact of adding certain data elements to every event such as actual odometer reading and geo-location, among others, and the ability of the ELD to more efficiently monitor vehicle operation with more frequent recordings.
ELD Certification – e.g., should FMCSA establish a certification process for ELDs.

The ANPRM notice can be viewed here. The comment deadline is November 15, 2022. Any comments you may have can be sent to Mike Caldarera at mcaldarer@npga.org.

The Versatility and Capability of Regenerative Turbine Pumps
Technology has several advantages when used in Autogas applications

Stephen Basclain

By Stephen Basclain

Autogas or liquified petroleum gas (LPG) is a mixture of propane and butane. This fuel source is unique because it can be stored and transported as a liquid but burned as a gas. Autogas dispensing installations frequently utilize regenerative turbine pumps.

While Autogas applications present a share of challenges, they are not unique. In fact, many applications using hard-to-handle liquids such as ammonia, various refrigerants and many hydrocarbons feature low viscosities, sometimes as low as 0.1 centipoise (10 times thinner than water) and vapor pressure near to normal atmospheric pressure. This creates problems for many pumping technologies as these fluids can be difficult to seal and the low viscosity increases the risk of internal slippage during operation.

One of the problems that come from pumping volatile liquids is cavitation. If the pump’s inlet pressure falls below the liquid’s vapor pressure, then vapor bubbles will form in the liquid. These bubbles will travel through the pumping chamber and, as the pressure increases, implode and cause cavitation, which can damage the pumping hardware.

Regenerative turbine pumps work well in these applications because they are immune to the damage caused to other pumps by cavitation and can handle low viscosities whilst maintaining high pressures. They also have several other advantages over alternative pump types.

This article will explore the versatile nature of regenerative turbine pumps and why they are a more favorable choice over other types of pump technology.

A closer look at regenerative turbine pumps

Although it has performance characteristics that closely resemble those from a positive displacement (PD) pump, the regenerative turbine pump is rotodynamic. Regenerative turbines combine the high discharge pressure of a PD pump with the performance flexibility of a centrifugal pump. They operate using a rotating, non-contacting, free-wheeling disc with many small buckets or cells on its periphery that functions as an impeller.
These small cells, typically 50-60 on each side of the impeller, scoop up the liquid when it enters the suction port of the turbine pump. The impeller then accelerates the liquid within the cells around the narrow hydraulic channel that surrounds them.

This fast spiral motion, at very high velocity, creates pressure thus establishing the differential pressure capability of the pump, which is why it’s called a regenerative turbine pump. Other names for this technology include peripheral pumps, centrifugal regenerative pumps and regenerative pumps among many others. Regardless of the name, this technology is categorized in the rotodynamic family of pumps.

Regenerative turbine pumps thrive when transferring liquids at high pressure and low flow, while also handling entrained vapors or liquids at or near their boiling point. These conditions typically limit the performance and functionality of most pump technologies, causing unreliable performance, cavitation, noise and vibration. By virtue of their design, regenerative turbine pumps don’t suffer from any of these conditions. Specifically, these pumps can handle viscosities of 0.1 to 50 cSt with differential pressures up to 300 psi (20 bar) and have a maximum allowable working pressure of up to 493 psi (34 bar) to enable handling liquids with high vapor pressures.

Typical regenerative turbine pumps generate flow rates up to 52.8 gpm (200 L/min) however some variations of these pumps are capable of handling even higher flow rates. Some newer iterations of this technology can reach peak flow rates as high as – and potentially higher than – 158.5 gpm (600 L/min).

The impeller and its cells give the pump its versatility. The spiral motion, as well as its speed, diminishes the chances for cavitation and pulsation by smoothing the fluid and collapsing the vapor bubbles immediately when they form. A smooth flow along with a hydraulically balanced design does not create detrimental effects and allows the regenerative turbine pump to function without vibration or noise in most pumping situations.

These functional traits and benefits allow regenerative turbine pumps to span beyond typical applications, such as Autogas. This technology also functions optimally in applications known for having low viscosity fluids, such as aerosols and refrigerants. Other applications include ammonia, vaporizer feed and cylinder filling as well as boiler feed water.

Matching up with side-channel pumps

Regenerative turbine pumps have several advantages over two comparable pump technologies – side-channel pumps – that operate in similar applications. Side-channel pumps, like regenerative turbine pumps, are great at performing well under poor suction conditions and both technologies are self-priming. The differences come down to the size and ease of maintenance.

Side-channel pumps have a larger footprint due to their design. They are generally made up of multiple pumping stages, these pumps are considerably larger than their single-stage counterparts.

In an LPG installation specifically, a side-channel pump might require four to eight stages to meet the duty parameters. With that many stages, side-channel pumps, which already have a large footprint, also become more complex to accommodate these applications’ demands. Regenerative turbine pumps, using a single-stage, offer the same performance as a four- or five-stage, side-channel pump and can operate at two-pole speeds, compared with typically four-pole speed limitations of side-channel pumps.

Additionally, with a larger footprint and more complex design than regenerative turbine pumps, side-channel pumps feature a considerable number of components, many of them prone to wear and eventual failure. Repairing or replacing these wear parts adds to the pump’s maintenance cost and total ownership cost.

Regenerative turbine pumps, meanwhile, have a compact footprint and a less complex design that features up to 25 components. This smaller, simpler design makes maintenance a short and efficient task. Less time on maintenance and fewer wear parts gives regenerative turbine pump owners better longevity and substantial financial savings. Also, because regenerative turbine pumps are simpler in design, they do not require a veteran engineer to maintain them. Any technically competent individual with moderate experience can handle this task.

Stacking up with other PD pumps

Other PD pumps, such as sliding vane, have their share of advantages. The most distinct include having a higher hydraulic efficiency and better effectiveness during priming over comparable pump technologies.

While regenerative turbine pumps don’t have those specific advantages, there are others that allow them to work well in similar applications. For example, regenerative turbine pumps don’t have as many moving parts as comparable technology, which allows them to operate continuously without many drawbacks.

On the maintenance side, the lack of multiple moving parts ensures that operators don’t have to worry about several pieces, each with their own life and service cycle. Fewer moving parts also means fewer shutdowns for scheduled maintenance, along with the need to keep several replacement parts in stock for eventual replacement. Operators can save more money this way too because they only need to worry about a smaller number of parts, which tend to have better longevity than the smaller pieces found in other pumping technology.

The major wear parts on regenerative turbine pumps – the impeller and the mechanical seal – also do not force owners to take them out of service during maintenance or replacement. In many cases, these parts can actually be replaced within an hour without disconnecting the pump from the pipework and, in frequent cases, without disconnecting the motor.

On the performance side, regenerative turbine pumps can operate continuously without the detriments – pulsation and cavitation – that affect other pumping technology. This continuous operation allows operators to use them without frequent stops, generating more hours of use in various applications.


When it comes to applications with low viscosity liquids and poor suction conditions or liquids near their boiling point, several pumping technologies can be used, but none of them have the same features and versatility as regenerative turbine pumps. Their performance with an array of liquids in different conditions allows the technology to thrive in a broad range of applications. The challenges posed by these liquids, such as entrained vapor and cavitation, don’t pose a threat to this pumping technology’s integrity, which means owners can expect a long life from regenerative turbine pumps with long periods between any maintenance.

When it does become necessary, maintenance of regenerative turbine pumps allows less-experienced users to manage it. These users don’t have to worry about replacing multiple wear parts or taking the pump out of service for several hours. In many cases, the pumps can be repaired or rebuilt without removing them from the pipework.

Regenerative turbine pumps have already proven their value in Autogas applications. As they continue to evolve, they will continue to appear more frequently in other applications that once were dominated by other pumping technologies.

About the Author

Stephen Basclain is the Business Development Manager for Ebsray®, Cromer, Australia, a global leader in the design and manufacture of regenerative turbine and positive displacement pump technologies. He can be reached at Stephen.Besclain@psgdover.com. Ebsray is a product brand of PSG®, a Dover company, Oakbrook Terrace, IL, USA. PSG is comprised of several leading brands, including Abaque®, All-Flo, Almatec®, Blackmer®, Ebsray®, em-tec, EnviroGear®, Griswold™, Hydro Systems, Mouvex®, Neptune™, Quantex™, Quattroflow™, RedScrew™ and Wilden®. For more information on Ebsray or PSG, please go to ebsraypumps.com or psgdover.com.

KENT, Conn. – September 27, 2022 – Cetane Associates LLC (“Cetane”) is pleased to announce that Colby & Gale, Inc. (“Colby & Gale”), a Maine corporation based in Damariscotta, Maine, has acquired the propane, distillates, and HVAC service business of M.W. Sewall Inc. (“M.W. Sewall”), headquartered in Bath, Maine. The transaction closed on September 20, 2022.

Founded in 1887 by Mark W. Sewall, M.W. Sewall had its origins in shipbuilding along the Kennebec River. Today, their square masted schooner, the Edward Sewall (which delivered kerosene in the Caribbean through the early 1900s), remains the historic symbol on their company logo. Three generations of Edward Sewalls led the growth of the business and transitions to distillates, coal, ice, HVAC service, and eventually propane. In 1992, Edward “Ned” Sewall III became President and led an accelerated growth period including the installation of propane bulk storage. Today M.W. Sewall emphasizes service to its residential and light commercial customers as its number one priority. The company consistently delivers on its promise to its long-standing Mid-Coastal customers.

Colby & Gale was established by Charlie Gale and Ken Colby, two employees of Etheridge Oil, which they purchased in 1946 and then changed the business name. From its humble beginnings, Colby & Gale has attained a proud reputation as a full-service, community-based company that maintains great relationships with its customers and meets the heating needs of the Mid-Coastal community it serves. Colby & Gale will carry on the M.W. Sewall legacy, maintaining its brand, its employees, and its business operation locations.

Cetane served as the sole arranger and financial advisor to M.W. Sewall. Cetane advised on the sale, including an initial valuation opinion, marketing the business through a confidential process, assisting in negotiating the final deal terms, and coordinating the due diligence process. Team members Jeff Brunner, Fred Lord, and Barrett Conway managed the transaction.

About Cetane Associates LLC

Cetane is a leading provider of financial advisory services to business owners in the retail energy distribution industry. Clients engage Cetane to advise on sales, spin-offs, and acquisitions, as well as perform valuation and ad hoc corporate finance assignments. For more information, please visit www.cetane.net.

From the National Propane Gas Association’s Bobtail

Bottom Line: Despite regional variations, overall, the U.S. experienced fewer heating degree days in October 2021 than the month’s 10-year average.

A heating degree day (HDD) is a measure of how cold a location is. It’s derived by comparing the average outdoor temperature to a baseline of 65 degrees. More extreme cold temperatures result in a higher number of HDDs, which typically translate to an increased demand for space heating by energy consumers.

For data and more details, click here.

The Propane Education & Research Council responded regarding a rebuttal by Stan Cross, Electric Transportation Policy Director at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy op-ed in The Tennessean. Stan Cross made several incorrect statements in his rebuttal to Mr. Perkins’ op-ed, including:

a) He focuses on propane being a fossil fuel, a categorization intended to lump what is a very clean energy in with a host of others that are not. When it comes to carbon intensity, the only way to get cleaner than propane is by using renewable propane.

b) Cross implies that propane buses are not clean like electric buses. Propane releases zero methane and reduces nitrogen oxides by 96 percent compared with diesel school buses.

c) Battery electric school buses don’t have any tailpipe emissions, but the mineral-dense battery packs required for school buses contain rare metals that are strip-mined in politically unfriendly countries by diesel-powered equipment. Also, for many years to come, electricity in the state will still be produced by fossil fuel burning plants.

d) Cross admits battery electric school buses have a higher upfront cost; it’s about $200,000 more expensive for each one. Not only are propane buses cheaper, they have four times’ longer range than electric buses, and on-site refueling stations can be installed at low or zero cost with a long-term fuel contract.

Battery electric buses don’t eliminate emissions; they simply move those emissions upstream to generators often located near vulnerable communities. Cross waves this inconvenience off, telling us that years from now, the TVA-powered grid will be cleaner. Where’s the logic when the urgency for decarbonization is now?

wip anniversaryWomen in Propane (WIP), an official business council of the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA), is looking to propel the propane industry further with a new podcast titled Through the Leadership Lens. Each episode focuses on making the propane industry better for everyone by talking about everything leadership!

Your hosts, Bridget Kidd and Freddie Ridler chat with industry influencers about everything from how individuals got into the propane industry to leadership qualities to emulate. Each episode will cover three different topics:

1) What does leadership mean to them?
2) Their experience with impactful leaders.
3) How leadership styles have changed over the years.

You will walk away from each episode with new ideas that you can use to advance your career and strengthen workplace relationships.

“We are excited to explore leadership in our industry from the Women in Propane perspective, and look forward to introducing our audience to today’s emergent leaders,” said Jessica Johnson, National Accounts Coordinator at ThompsonGas and creator of the podcast. “There are many transformative conversations happening right now and we wanted to have a way to capture them.”

To learn more about Through the Leadership Lens or The Leadership Lens Online, please visit www.womeninpropane.org/podcast. All podcast episodes are available wherever you listen to podcasts.

About Women in Propane: The Women in Propane Council (WIP) was founded in 2012 as a business council of the National Propane Gas Association. The council is governed by an executive board of industry leaders that has adopted by-laws that define the organizational structure and opportunity for membership and involvement. Women in Propane was established to provide positive opportunities for industry professionals—both women and men—to support the advancement and success of all employees in every scope of business operation and professional development. Founded by women, our mission today champions the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Learn more in our webinar series, The Leadership Lens Online, which focuses on empowering, educating, and networking for member organizations

Recently, Tucker Perkins, President and CEO of the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) welcomed Dr. Graham Conway, a principal engineer at Southwest Research Institute, to his ‘Path to Zero’ Podcast. In this episode, he explains how reducing transportation emissions will require leaving our options open, rather than relying solely on electric vehicles.

Listen to the podcast here.

WYOMING, MINNESOTA – Lakes Gas, headquartered in Wyoming, Minn. is pleased to announce that it has acquired the propane operations of Blackhawk Propane in South Beloit, Illinois.

Blackhawk Propane sells and delivers propane to residential, agricultural, and commercial customers in 10 counties in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. The company was founded in 1982 by Bob Zeek, Sr. and Bob Zeek, Jr., who were also in the welding supply business. Bob Zeek, Jr. has served as President since the death of his father, and his mother Ann manages the office. Like Lakes Gas, Blackhawk has focused on providing local service in the communities they serve.

“We are pleased to join forces with Lakes Gas,” said Bob Zeek, Jr. “It was a difficult decision to sell, but Trent and the Lakes Gas team have been great to work with.”

“We are grateful to be associated with Blackhawk Propane, and with Bob and Ann,” Lakes Gas CEO Trent Hampton commented. “We intend to honor the legacy of the Zeek family as we do the Sargeant family’s history at Lakes Gas. And we are very excited to extend our footprint into northern Illinois and the southern tier of counties in Wisconsin.”

About Lakes Gas

Founded in 1959, Lakes Gas is now one of the largest family-owned propane providers in the country. Our 50 locations in the upper Midwest are staffed by employees who live in the communities they serve.

EIA inventory data released Wednesday showed a build of 1.8mmbbl at Belvieu and an 800mbbl build at Conway bringing overall U.S. levels to 81.2mmbbls. This puts propane over 10mmbbls above year-ago levels although they are still closer to the bottom of the five-year average. This is likely another winter where warm conditions will mean smooth sailing but cold conditions could create some serious supply, price and distribution problems. With the ability to quickly ship propane to anywhere in the world, supply can be depleted very fast in a high world demand scenario.

D.D. Alexander, Chairman of the NPGA Propane Supply & Logistics Committee, said on a recent webinar, “If we have a cold winter, we’ll have to outbid the export market.” Alexander noted that over the past 28 months, propane production has only grown 4 percent while exports are increasing 10 percent each year.

Prices at Belvieu briefly dipped below a dollar a gallon after Wednesday’s bearish EIA inventory data but strengthened again at the end of the day. Conway and Belvieu trading within a penny of each other is a sign the market is working to keep propane in the Midwest in the aftermath of the Medford fire in Oklahoma. Demand for crop drying remains uncertain and could cause a depletion of supply at a time when more product may be needed further south as well.

Crude oil and natural gas continue to trade significantly higher this year than last year amid concerns as Russia shuts off supplies to Europe. Some analysts believe the shutting off of shipments of natural gas on the Nord Stream pipeline flowing to Europe could bump natural gas prices to $13 or $14/mmbtu. The ripple effect could cause propane demand to increase with shipments moving from the U.S. to replace natural gas in Europe where it is able to be a replacement.

This is a winter where the successful retail propane marketer will be the marketer prepared for all scenarios. While a mild season may mean prices pull back some, demand could ramp up and those who have backup plans and product and transportation availability in place will be the ones who ultimately have the successful winter.

Steve Ahrens, MPGA President and CEO

While Missouri retail propane marketers look forward to annual events such as the Midstates Management Forum and the Annual Family Outing, there are also eight regional Safety Dinners held twice a year, usually in March and September, that focus on all issues related to safety.

Recently, marketers gathered at the various meetings across the state to hear from the Missouri Propane Gas Association’s (MPGA) President and CEO Steve Ahrens, MPGA’s Director of Education Andy Gosney, and the Missouri Propane Safety Commission’s (MPSC) Executive Director Derek Poe.

Ahrens spoke regarding online safety education materials available from the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) as well as the work of Vets2Tech and GenNext to help companies attract new employees. Poe, who became the new MPSC Executive Director in July, talked about recent safety incidents in Missouri and the importance of notifying the MPSC of incidents quickly after they happen so that no time is lost in conducting an investigation.

Derek Poe, MPSC Executive Director

Gosney delivered a powerpoint presentation discussing statistics showing that for every fatality there are approximately three serious injuries, 50 minor injuries requiring first aid, 80 incidents of property damage and 400 near misses. He used a candy jar example to demonstrate that even if you only have a few black jelly beans in a jar with many more of other colors, there is still a chance to reach in and pull out a black jelly bean just like there is always a chance of death or serious injury even if the odds are low.

Gosney discussed personal risk assessment everyone takes when working with hazardous materials: do I know how? do I have the right personal protective equipment (PPE)? are conditions safe? and what’s the worst that could happen? He reminded attendees that OSHA requires fire extinguisher training within 90 days of employment and annual inspections, monthly visual inspections and an 18 lb. ABC rated fire extinguisher. (2020 NFPA 58)

Andy Gosney, MPGA Director of Training and Education

Also discussed were PPE, frequent factors in slips, trips and falls (16% housekeeping issues, 25% wet or slippery surfaces, 54% human factors, 1% poor lighting, 2% stairs and 2% ladders) and he discussed the importance of scaffolding instead of haphazard stacking of various pieces of available furniture and ladders. What are the indirect costs of poor safety habits? Gosney discussed that some of the many costs including lost time wages due to injury, overtime, supervisor wages, lost bonuses, employee morale, need for counseling and turn-over.

Recently Tucker Perkins, President and CEO of the Propane Education & Research Council, invited Stan Cross, Electric Transportation Policy Director at Southern Alliance for Clean Energy to join him for a discussion on the pros and cons of electric and propane school buses. The invitation followed a rebuttal by Cross of Perkins’ editorial in the Tennessean. Below is Perkins’ invitation as well as links to both editorials. Trending in Propane will keep you posted on a podcast if it occurs.

The electric transportation policy director at Southern Alliance for Clean Energy submitted a pro-electric school bus op-ed in response to my opinion piece in The Tennessean (links below) about the value and health benefits of propane-powered school buses. With all due respect, this narrow perspective prevents us from achieving carbon reduction goals at the fastest pace possible. We need a wide path approach to decarbonization, which includes and extends beyond electrification. Stan Cross, would you please consider joining me on my Path to Zero podcast to discuss the pros and cons of propane and electric school buses? I think we’ll both come away winners in the fight against #climatechange.

Editorial by Tucker Perkins

Editorial by Stan Cross

Recently, Lions Club International profiled Brian Sheehan, the Club’s new International President who has spend many years building up the Rural Computer Consultants brand.

The article can be found here.

The GTC, created and launched in 2006 in Chicago by the World LPG Association (WLPGA), is the only global conference dedicated to technology and nnovation in the LPG industry. GTC is an integral part of LPG Week and will take place in New Delhi on the 15th of November 2022 in front of an expected audience of over 200. GTC2022 will showcase the most innovative and original technological ideas across the LPG industry from around the world. The call for papers to be presented at GTC2022 is now open.

For more details on the Global Energy Conference, click here.

From the World LP Gas Association

Register today for the premier global LPG event. For world-class networking, leading discussions and access to the latest innovations in the industry – register for LPG Week 2022/New Delhi now.

Your registration options: Attend in-person or virtually, selective registration categories are also available. But hurry, the discounted Early Bird registration rates are only available until 23rd September 2022.

View conference brochure & register

New Delhi 2022 – Build Stronger, More Meaningful Business Relationships

Ensure your presence at LPG Week 2022/New Delhi by booking your booth or sponsorship now: to position yourself as an industry leader and help shape the future of LPG; build connections with like-minded professionals and expand your network; showcase the benefits of LPG to policymakers and other stakeholders.

Discover what opportunities LPG Week 2022/New Delhi has to offer:

Book now

The Learning Center has opportunities that go beyond safety training for your employees. It also has a wide variety of other courses and information that can help you grow your business, learn more about a specific market, and more. Most recently, PERC introduced a suite of six environmental modules to help you become more confident in propane’s role within the environment and how to speak about it.

Each module takes less than 20 minutes to complete. The environmental courses include:

Builders, Propane, and the Environment
Environmental Impacts: Propane vs. Electricity
How to Talk about Propane and the Environment
Marketer Math: In the Numbers with Propane & Electricity
Renewable Propane and the Environment
The Competitor Series: Electricity

Take Environmental Training

NPGA is supportive of its rail and coalition partners as numerous groups work towards a resolution between the nation’s Class 1 railroads and unions to avoid a strike.

The most recent update from the National Carriers Conference Committee (NCCC) of the National Railway Labor Conference is located here. The NCCC represents all U.S. Class 1 railroads other than Canadian Pacific.

Recommendations from the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) — a panel of arbitrators appointed by President Biden — are available here and a summary from NPGA’s coalition partner, the Association of American Railroads, is available here.

With the PEB’s recommendations in place, the nation’s freight railroads have reached agreement with a majority of the rail unions. However, as of this morning, there are still a couple of agreements not yet in place. Accordingly, there is the potential for a strike as early as 12:01 am on September 16, 2022.

NPGA President and CEO Stephen Kaminski

Please know that NPGA is pulling all levers we can to assist. We are in communications with our coalition partners to support their efforts and we have pressed Congress through NPGA’s Congressional Propane Caucus to stress the importance of continued rail operations on propane delivery logistics. This outreach is particularly important because the complexities of the federal Railway Labor Act (RLA) allow rail industry strikes of this nature to be resolved by an act of Congress. And in fact, since the 1960s, Congress has resolved all such strikes quickly.

Between today and September 16, freight rail is taking steps to ensure they can shut down operations safely if a strike occurs and be positioned to restart quickly when operations resume. For example, NPGA is aware that at least four Class 1 railroads are embargoing certain hazardous materials (primarily chemicals) as early as yesterday, September 11: CSX, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, and BNSF. At least for Union Pacific where we have gained access to the specific embargo information, it does not cover propane. If you are aware of any embargo of propane by a Class 1 railroad prior to September 16, please alert Steve Kaminski, NPGA President and CEO, at skaminski@nga.org immediately.