Tuesday 16 September 2008
Converting diesel into green
SFD Purifier sees an opening to convert diesel engines to NGV as fuel prices jump,
In the wake of expensive fuel, motorists are looking to cut costs and the market has opened a door for products that serve their needs.
With diesel hitting a record price above 44 baht per litre in July, these can be hard times for diesel-engine motorists - but modifying a diesel engine to run on cheaper natural gas is twice as expensive as converting a gasoline engine, because diesel engines must be modified to gasoline first before being made compatible with gas.
However, SFD Purifier (Thailand) has seen an opening in this situation. According to managing director Yasser Mokdad, it is to expand from its core diesel purifier equipment business to start importing natural gas for vehicle (NGV) kits for diesel engines to get around this need for double modification.
"Our NGV kit changes the way a diesel engine works, allowing the engine to work with NGV so the change from diesel to gasoline is not necessary," he said.
Apart from NGV kits, SFD is also planning to import and manufacture E85 sensor kits that allow normal gasoline vehicles to run E85, or 85% ethanol blended in petrol.
"This sensor kit's patent is owned by the biggest E85 kit company in Brazil, the world's biggest ethanol-based petrol market, and we expect to sign a trade agreement with them next week," he said.
"If they agree to our terms and the deal can be closed, customers will get E85 kits later this year at about US$100 a set."
However, from an insider's point of view, he advised against converting vehicles to NGV.
He said that although an NGV system saves on fuel, diesel vehicle owners should consider that an NGV system shortens engine life much faster than diesel.
Mr Mokdad said that his company had already brought other innovative items to the market, including a product developed by a Saudi petroleum expert to reduce fuel consumption for any business operating diesel engines.
He said the company started a joint venture with the patent owner and had commercialised the product in Thailand since 2005, manufacturing locally in the company's Nakhon Pathom factory using both local and imported parts.
Mr Mokdad said the SFD purifier combines functions including heating, filtering and water separation in a single piece of equipment.
The product works through pre-heating fuel and through filtering water and contaminants out of diesel to ensure that only pure diesel passes through the engine, he said.
Mr Mokdad claimed that these mechanisms result in a better condition for the engine, which experiences improved combustion through cleaner fuel. He claimed that engine efficiency is enhanced and that there is a saving from 5.7% to 22% on maintenance, depending on driving style.
"This purifier helps vehicle owners reduce maintenance costs, fuel consumption and, most importantly, pollution as contaminations have been kept back in the purifier part," he said.
He added that the SFD purifier costs from 5,000 to 20,000 baht, depending on the power of the diesel engine.
He forecast domestic sales of seven million baht for SFD this year, a slight reduction from last year. However, with the high price of diesel, he said he hoped for a dramatic surge to 40 million baht next year from the sale of more than 20,000 devices.
Globally, he said the company has a target of selling 120,000 SFD purifier units over the next year and 500,000 in the next three years.
"We plan to better penetrate pickup trucks, commercial vehicles and the fishing industry, where we see high potential," he said. The company also ships goods to overseas markets including Southeast Asian, France, Germany and some African countries.
He added that the company was in the process of signing deals with potential partners to build manufacturing plants in Algeria, Nigeria and India.