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Forklift Gas - Features and Benefits of Gas Powered Forklifts

Forklift or LPG is a fuel for forklifts and industrial trucks with some advantages compared to other fuels such as gasoline or diesel. For example, forklift gas is comparatively environmentally friendly and easier to stockpile and store. For this purpose, metal gas bottles are used, which can easily be mounted on the forklift itself and which have special quick-release fasteners.

Propellant gas for forklift trucks or for short forklift truck gas is a fuel that is predominantly made up of liquid propane gas (C.3H8), with small proportions of butane, ethane and ethene (hydrocarbons). Forklift gas has a high energy content and burns much cleaner than fossil fuels such as gasoline or diesel. For this reason, forklift gas has long been used as an environmentally friendly fuel, even indoors. Because unlike petrol or diesel, no carcinogenic emissions are released when forklift gas is burned. Propellant gas has a high octane rating, which ensures that the engine runs smoothly and gently. In addition, propane gas can be liquefied at low pressure, which reduces its volume by a factor of 260 compared to its gaseous state. Around 2,600 liters of gas can be obtained from a liquid gas volume of 10 liters.

LPG engines do not need a carburetor, but an evaporator. The gas is transported in liquid form in a bottle on the counterweight of the forklift and from there it reaches the evaporator, where it is ignited with the ignition system and thus transfers its energy to the engine. Unlike LPG, for example, the propellant gas is taken in the liquid phase, so a pressure regulator on the forklift is not required. The forklift gas cylinders are provided with an internal immersion tube through which safe removal during operation is possible.

In its gaseous state, forklift gas is heavier than air, so if there is little air movement in closed rooms, there is a risk that the gas will collect on the floor or in depressions or even flow into lower-lying rooms (e.g. basements). For this reason, too, forklift gas must be mixed with odorous substances, since the gas itself is odorless and therefore cannot be detected without detectors or other technical aids. Since liquid gas, like petrol, can form an explosive mixture in combination with air, technical and organizational protective measures must be taken. The propellant gas system must be designed and operated in such a way that hazards from escaping gas are avoided. The setting device for the air-gas mixture must be secured against unintentional adjustment.

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Differences between forklift gas, LPG or camping gas

In terms of chemical properties, there are hardly any differences between the propellant gas for forklifts, LPG and LPG for camping and leisure applications. However, the fuel intended for forklifts has a different tax rate, and the gas bottles are also different.

Although LPG and leisure or camping gas are mostly propane and the fuel itself would be equally suitable for many applications, the difference in gas bottles is crucial. In order to avert considerable risks of damage and dangers to life and limb, each bottle should only be used for the intended purpose and connection or the intended device.

Why are forklift gas cylinders not allowed to be used for other devices?

As already mentioned at the beginning, forklift gas cylinders do not need a pressure regulator because the gas is taken in the liquid state. The immersion or riser pipe in the forklift gas cylinders enables the gas to come out of the cylinder in a liquid state and reach the forklift's evaporator. In contrast, the gaseous gas and therefore a different connection or a pressure regulator or pressure reducer is required for other applications.

For this reason, forklift gas cylinders are not suitable for liquid gas heating or camping stoves in caravans or mobile homes. With these, the bottle is used upright, not lying down like with the gas forklift. In addition, the gas is used in a gaseous state; it flows out of the top of the bottle as a gas and is then ignited in a controlled manner for heating or cooking. If you were to use a forklift gas bottle instead, liquid gas could come out of the bottle (e.g. past the pressure reducer) and then ignite in an uncontrolled manner. In this way, the stove or the heater would become life-threatening flame throwers.

It is therefore extremely important for safety not to mix up the gas containers and not to try to operate a forklift or other vehicle with a heating or camping gas cylinder.

Which gas bottles are there for forklift gas?

The classic gas cylinder for forklift gas is the compact 11 kg gas cylinder to borrow (deposit system) or buy. The bottle, which weighs around 14 kg when empty, contains 11 kg of propellant gas when full. Depending on the consumption and performance of the respective forklift, one bottle filling is sufficient for approx. 3 to 5 operating hours.

In addition to the 11-kilo cylinders, a number of suppliers now also offer aluminum gas cylinders that hold 14 kg of forklift gas with the same dimensions and also score points with a lower empty weight of less than 7 kg. In addition to the greater range, they also offer the advantage that changing bottles is much easier due to their lower weight.

The gas bottle is connected via the forklift's interchangeable bottle connection. Before connecting, the user must first check whether the seal on the swap body is still present and intact. Then the gas cylinder and the truck are connected to each other with the help of the screw cap. Today, many companies use LPG bottles with a clip-on system, easy or click closures, which enable a tool-free, faster and easier bottle change. To convert a gas forklift to it, all that is required is a suitable conversion kit, which the user can mount on the forklift himself within a few minutes.

The new connection systems offer several advantages, especially for intensive users. The use of clip-on gas cylinders in companies that use their gas forklifts a lot or all the time saves a lot of time and effort, which is known to mean money. In addition, the clip-on is cleaner than the conventional connection because any dirt particles are filtered out of the gas via an integrated filter insert. This also saves some costs when the forklift truck is used intensively, because such particles can lead to malfunctions and engine damage in gas-powered forklifts, which can result in downtimes and expensive repair bills.

Safety instructions: Connection, use and storage of forklift gas

Regardless of the connection system and type of cylinder, the gas containers are fastened horizontally on the forklift. It should be noted that the valve and collar opening (bottle collar) must point downwards and the hose of the gas bottle must not protrude beyond the outer edge of the vehicle.

Be careful when changing the gas cylinder on the forklift. Only instructed persons are allowed to carry out the exchange (above ground level and outdoors), and leather gloves must be worn to protect against cold burns.

First of all, the valve is closed, then the union nut on the connection can be loosened. Before connecting the new bottle, check whether there is a suitable sealing ring on it. Then the bottle can be put on and connected and then the hose can be fitted. Once this is done, the valve can be fully opened again and the vehicle is ready for use again.

Forklift gas is flammable and can cause serious damage if it escapes unnoticed from a container. When changing cylinders, there is also the risk of so-called cold burns. Because if propellant escapes in an uncontrolled manner, it expands quickly and cools down very strongly. To minimize risk and avoid accidents and damage, gas containers must therefore be properly stored, transported and used.

The transport of full or empty gas cylinders should only be carried out by trained employees. The valve must be closed and the protective cover of the gas container screwed on. The gas bottles must not be rolled or tipped during transport. Stored gas containers must also be secured against slipping, rolling, tipping, falling over and, moreover, against theft and unauthorized use. This is possible, for example, by storing it in a gas bottle depot, gas bottle cabinet or a storage box for gas bottles.

Every user of a gas-powered forklift should know and internalize these safety instructions:

  • There must be no visible (recognizable) defects on the gas containers and valves.
  • The valves must always be fully open during operation.
  • The valves must always be closed after operation and during longer work breaks.
  • The gas forklift must always be safely parked after use.
  • Temperatures of more than 40 ° C should be avoided when working with gas forklifts.
  • Never use forklift gas cylinders for any other purpose or device.

When is an in-house gas filling station for forklifts worthwhile?

If several gas forklifts work at the same time in the company, a company's own LPG filling station can be worthwhile because of the greater consumption. The acquisition of the necessary technology does result in additional costs, but the logistical effort for delivery, transport and storage of forklift gas cylinders is reduced enormously. In addition, the range of a LPG truck with an integrated gas tank is greater; the vehicle therefore has to be refueled less often and saves time and money every day in the operational process.

However, many companies, such as small and medium-sized companies, prefer to operate with mobile gas cylinders, which are usually obtained from a fuel supplier in the region. Most gas cylinder dealers not only offer one-time pick-up or delivery, but also regular supply as required or as agreed. This is a reliable and uncomplicated solution for the forklift operator: the empty gas cylinders are exchanged by the supplier for full ones at regular intervals, usually with safe, stackable boxes or pallets for gas cylinders. In this way, there is always sufficient gas in stock in the company, and in the event of an unforeseen additional requirement, more can be ordered and delivered at short notice from a trusted supplier, so that there are no bottlenecks.

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