NAFTC Adds Newly-Designed Bi-Fuel Engine Performance Trainer to Upcoming Trainings

Thursday, April 26th, 2018 NAFTC Updates
NAFTC Adds Newly-Designed Bi-Fuel Engine Performance Trainer to Upcoming Trainings

To understand how to repair a vehicle, you need to see how it works.

In December of 2017, the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC) received a training tool to assist in the education of automotive technicians on maintaining, troubleshooting, and repairing propane autogas vehicles.

Front view of the Bi-fuel Engine Performance Trainer.

The Bi-Fuel Engine Performance Trainer is a free-standing structure with components of a standard propane autogas system. Credit: NAFTC.

The Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) estimates that there are more than 200,000 propane vehicles in the United States. Many fleets use propane vehicles due to their fuel economy, performance, and successful track record.

For the past several years, the NAFTC and PERC have worked together to ensure that automotive technicians have the skills to safely and effectively repair and maintain these vehicles through a series of free training sessions held across the country. Using curricula developed through a partnership between PERC and the NAFTC, these training sessions target in-service technicians as well as those entering the workplace and have been hugely successful for laying the groundwork for necessary automotive technical support for the propane autogas industry. Recently the NAFTC, PERC, ATech Training, Inc., and ICOM North America joined together to create a tool that would enhance these trainings.

At their headquarters in Walton, KY ATech created their first Bi-Fuel Engine Performance Trainer for use in upcoming NAFTC Propane Autogas Vehicle Technician trainings. The NAFTC, ICOM North America, and PERC consulted with ATech on the design and provided support.

Laura Lyons, president of ATech commented, “Propane is the most widely used alternative fuel for vehicles and is a viable source due to the availability and infrastructure. Fleets are using this fuel due to advantages over other fuels for their needs. ATech wanted to offer a trainer to assist instructors with demonstrating the operations of an engine using propane.”

The training unit allows students to see the workings of a bi-fuel vehicle running on propane autogas and gasoline, from fuel tank to injectors, and to diagnose faults placed in the system by the class instructor through both electronic and mechanical means.

Mark Schmidt showing the bug box of the Bi-fuel Engine Performance Trainer.

NAFTC National Instructor Mark Schmidt inspects the “bug box” which allows the introduction of faults into the system so that training participants can learn to diagnose and repair potential problems. Credit: NAFTC.

Lyons continued, “Working in collaboration with NAFTC, ICOM, and PERC enabled ATech to develop a trainer that meets the needs for training in this industry. Each of these partners brings a wealth of knowledge and experience using propane and allowed us to develop a better trainer in a shorter time frame. ATech is looking forward to featuring the Bi-Fuel Engine Performance Trainer in future trade show and training venues.”

Micheal Smyth, NAFTC interim director, states “Participants in our autogas educational sessions have always commented that the most beneficial segments of the class involve seeing fuel systems in operation and having the opportunity for hands-on interaction with them. Our earlier conversion of the NAFTC’s cutaway Prius vehicle trainer HEVTE to run on propane autogas benefitted students in our propane trainings, and the Bi-Fuel Engine Performance Trainer will only enhance that student experience.”

The training unit includes the following systems for diagnostics:

  • Engine
  • Transmission
  • Heat/Ventilation/Air Conditioning
  • Electrical
  • Exhaust
  • Engine Cooling
  • Emissions

Albie Venezio, ICOM technical manager, said, “ICOM is always interested in helping the propane vehicle industry, and quality automotive technician training is an important factor in the future of these vehicles. We want to help technicians receive the best training to ensure that propane vehicles are properly maintained and have a long lifespan for drivers and fleets.”

Rear view of the Bi-fuel Engine Performance Trainer

The Bi-Fuel Engine Performance Trainer will be used in all upcoming Propane Autogas Vehicle Technician Trainings. Credit: NAFTC.

Stuart Flatow, PERC vice-president of safety and training, stated “This new training unit will help students better visualize and understand the vehicle systems in future propane autogas trainings. The propane training unit, along with the recent propane conversion of HEVTE, will give technicians who attend the trainings a thorough picture of how the propane systems work within the vehicle.”

No-cost Propane Autogas Vehicle Technician Trainings are being scheduled for 2018, and will be announced in the coming weeks. Additional trainings can be arranged through the NAFTC.

Learn more about NAFTC Propane Autogas Vehicle Technician Training or call 304-293-7882 to arrange a training session at your facility.