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Gavin Hale with Propane Education and Research Council
31st January 2024 • The Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott MacKenzie • The Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott MacKenzie
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Industrial Talk is onsite at PowerGen and talking to Gavin Hale, Director - Product Development and Power Generation with Propane Education and Research Council about "The many power generation applications of Propane now and in the future".  Here are some of the key takeaways from our conversation:
  • Industrial security and technology innovations. 0:00
    • Palo Alto Networks offers zero trust security for operational technology, simplifying management and providing comprehensive visibility and protection.
  • Propane as a fuel source and its uses. 2:26
    • Gavin Hale shares his experience in product development and business development in the propane industry.
    • Gavin discusses the potential of propane as a renewable energy source, highlighting its long-term stability and global availability.
  • Propane as a reliable, low-emission energy source. 6:13
    • Propane engines offer efficient combustion, low emissions, and low cost, making them a reliable choice for power generation.
    • Gavin explains that most engines can run on either natural gas or propane with minimal adjustments, maximizing efficiency.
  • Propane infrastructure, renewable propane, and customer education. 9:35
    • Gavin highlights the challenges of adopting propane as a clean energy source, including infrastructure costs and safety concerns.
    • Despite these challenges, propane is a big industry, with 10 billion gallons sold annually in the US alone.
    • Renewable propane generated from non-food crops like camelina, with low carbon intensity.
  • Renewable energy and propane distribution. 13:45
    • Gavin discusses the challenges and costs of hydrogen fuel distribution, favoring propane as a more practical and cost-effective alternative.
    • Gavin Hale discusses propane education and research at PowerGen.
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Industrial Talk is brought to you by Palo Alto Networks. Palo Alto Networks offers zero trust for your operational technology without the PTSD. If you're in the digital transformation game, keeping Operational Technology secure and running smoothly, is a tall order. It's enough to make any coolest Operations Director wake up in night sweats Palo Alto Networks zero trust OT security delivers comprehensive visibility and security for all OT assets, networks and remote operations. It provides best in class security, while simplifying OT security management. It sees and protects everything in the network. And it automates threat detection while implementing zero trust across all operations. So sleep better at night knowing you have the most comprehensive platform to detect, manage, and secure your OT assets. Learn more about the Palo Alto Networks zero trust solution, go out to Palo Alto That's Palo Alto Find out more, you will not be disappointed.


Welcome to the Industrial Talk podcast with Scott MacKenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots, and let's go Alright,


once again, welcome to Industrial Talk the number one industry related podcast in the universe that is backed up by data so don't even don't even go there gabbing. And it is a platform that is dedicated to industrial professionals all around the world. You guys you're bold, you are brave, you dare greatly you innovate, you solve problems. And that's why we celebrate you on this platform Industrial Talk. We are broadcasting on site power, Gen 24. New Orleans is the location. And it is great. They just opened the doors. And now we get a lot of people just wandering around looking at all the mat technologies and solutions. It's a lot of fun. I haven't had a chance to walk around Gavin and so I feel bad about that. But I want to walk around and look at all the tech and mad mad solutions. As you can tell Gavin's in the house. Let's get cracking. So, Gavin, here having a good conference,


fantastic turnout. It's been great. And obviously only the second day, but we had a lot of footfall on the booth yesterday, it's been a great show so far for us.


Propane Education and Research Council,


shed by an act of Congress in:


Yeah, it's interest. Before we get into that conversation, give us a little 411 little information about who Gavin is. And then we're going to venture into the world of propane.


Perfect. Yeah, so my name is Gavin Hale, I'm the director of pert responsible for product development. So defining the strategies that we deploy in the technologies that we work with to develop sustainable technical partnerships in the various segments that we serve. So student transportation, on road trucks, power generation, agricultural markets, propane is used everywhere. And our job is to amplify that. So I've been with the Council for just over a year prior to that I worked for Deluxe Corporation, with responsibility for some development work, but business development primarily. Prior to that I worked for a company called Power Solutions International, did some work for them in Europe and established some of their key accounts here in the US. And then 20 years with Caterpillar engine division, working all over the world. So worked in Europe, Middle East, Asia, US


mad skills, really, that's mad skills. Why did you decide that you wanted to go? Or how did how did your journey bring you to the propane council that how did that happen? So


so the, the fundamental background for me is product. So development, and sale of product, and I wanted to kind of have a bit more of an saying is there's always one more adventure. Yeah. And the eventual for me was to take myself away from direct responsibility for product development and business development for a defined piece of technology to become more of a fan of flames for the overall market that can use that technology. And over the years, I've developed relationships with all the major engine manufacturers, for example, globally. And I use those relationships along with the team that works for perc to grow, to grow the business to get people interested in the technology and TriCity using propane as a field, increasingly renewable prototype, it's a great energy source us made.


For for me, me, take us through just the manufacturing. Now we a lot of conversation has been around renewables, using certain types of fuels, you're the first individual that we are speaking specifically around propane, and the use of propane as a fuel. Take us, you know, everybody knows natural gas. Yeah, the only people that I know about that use propane are the ones that live in the country. And they got a tank.


And so we're the market, but it goes way, way beyond that. So propane is it's kind of like a miracle fuel. This sounds like a super high end thing. But it's it's kind of is in its own way, produced as a byproduct of other refining processes, we develop an excess capacity, a lot of it gets exported. So you've got this base availability of fuel, you can put propane in a tank and leave it for 50 years. And when from a molecular standpoint, you'll get the same product out of


that because propane is broken, doesn't doesn't degrade over


time. Perfect, and it lends itself to efficient combustion. Now, this is a power Gen engines, a quarter power generators, efficient combustion, low emissions very, very clean, very, very low. So Well, next to no soot content, for example. So when you see a propane engine, and it's been designed correctly, you've got really efficient combustion, very, very simple aftertreatment no need for filters or anything like just a simple catalytic converter that you have on your car. Yeah, that's the NASA technology. It's a very compelling fuel and perhaps more of a direct connection with where we are today at the power Gen show. As we move forward, as society moves forward, we the capability of the grid that we have to provide that the electricity that we need becomes more and more marginal. And propane is an excellent fuel for power generation to bring that energy source back into a local environment. So if you think the microbial community or an industrial complex and the beauty is we sit we don't compete with other technologies, we sit alongside the the technology, so a micro grid serving I don't know, a hospital or a small community might have solar great, we like solar when the sun's out, it might have some wind generation capability. That's great. It's infrequent, it's not reliable, but it's it's good clean energy with propane as a source to support that


this sort of a baseload in a sense, right. It's just like it's there. It's it's, it's predictable. It's not, not something that's going to say I hope it works today.


ons, it's low cost. We've got:


Some of the questions that I have is revolves around let's say a generator. You have we've got generators around here. We've got reciprocating engines, we've got stuff happening here. And, and probably many are natural gas, said whatever. Is there a retrofit of some sort that has to happen with these reciprocating engines to be able to accept propane or is it just one for one or whatever?


It's not, it's not, it can be treated as a drop in fuel. But the key here is to get the most efficiency out of any field that you can sure, particularly these days, sure. So the vast majority of engines here you'll see today I've got a dual capability that can be either natural gas or they can be propane, or even burn wellhead gas, for example. This the secret sauce is to is the marginal amount of work that needs to be done from a calibration standpoint, and in some cases may be from, from a say a turbocharger specification, but it's an external piece of work to get that ultimate efficiency has a perfect but it can't if you've got a natural gas engine it will it will it will run on propane.


That's beautiful. Yeah. And when you when you start talking about the abundance of what exists out there and propane, it, it seems like it's a no brainer. Why why is there some pushback? Okay, so


e infrastructure that we have:


That's a big number. I don't know how big that is size wise, but it's it's a big number.


It's a big number. So that keeps that roughly 45 million homes give or take rely on propane 100% Right eating 600,000 forklift trucks every day are running on propane 30,000 school buses taken out clean burning propane with no diesel please


tell me about renewable propane. What is that? This is so exciting. Yeah, talk to me because I, I get it. But what is it? It's


a it's it is probate. So from a walk, we'll walk it back. From a molecular standpoint, of course, it's identical. But it comes from rather from the production of oil and gas. And as a byproduct of that. This is propane that's generated either from waste products. So very low carbon intensity or refined from non feed feedstock. So crops with a carbon intensity of maybe seven, so very, very low. So basically, it's is it take the feedstock version, it's a crop that's harvested, it's refined into into into liquid and then refined further into into


renewable Oh, give me an example of a crop. camelina


is a good example. So camelina, which nobody had never heard of it


just blew my mind. I'm thinking to myself, I'm gonna grow hair. And before I understand that, you need


to grow camellia camelina is a crop with a very, very high oil yield. So it's an excellent source of creating renewable. It's an it's a non food crop. I mean, technically, I guess you call it a weed, it will grow anyway, it will grow in almost desert, like it'll grow in the buyer just down the road. It's in the future, propane renewable throw, but is around feedstocks. Because, yes, you can take food crops. But do we really want to use product that should be used for feeding into fuel. So this is where we've invested is the different levels of technology, different feedstocks, whether it's recycling old cooking oil, or whether it's a


goddess, I got it, and you do the same process, you crack it in a sense. And as a part of that whole, pretty traditional way of processing oil. You get the byproduct of say


something is really exciting. So we don't we don't compete with different fields. There's a march towards hydrogen to a degree, it's many years of being


Yeah, I agree. Yeah.


The amount of design change you need to do to an engine to get that little hydrogen moral molecule to go where it needs to go and stay where it's supposed to. And the amount of safety considerations around that field are phenomenal. So to put a high hydrogen distribution tank that's capable of refueling vehicles, it's probably a million books. In fact, I know it is because I know somebody's


done it. I was just gonna say you probably have the inside track.


It's a scoop. It's a million dollars to put a propane distribution tank in places 50,000 It's still that 100 psi so think about it's a no brainer, renewable fuel to lower carbon intensity than hydrogen when you include all the manufacturing processes. No design change to your engine, just drop it straight in. See


now I'm just gonna go buy some propane just because I think it's cool.


It is Really?


How do people get ahold of you?


Oh website go straight on the website. There's a picture of me if you can


stumble and you have


Yeah, and it's a wealth of information it's really well curated check it


out You are wonderful. Thank you enjoyed that conversation. We go to the same barber if you can tell by the video. Same Barber. All right, we're gonna have all the contact information for Gavin You know, out on Industrial Talk will have his link. Hey, you asked about on LinkedIn.


I am indeed.


We're gonna have that his stack card will be out there.


Thanks very much.


Make sure all right, we're gonna wrap it up on the other side. Thank you very much for joining. We will be right back.


You're listening to the Industrial Talk Podcast Network.


Another great conversation. Really enjoyed that chat with Gavin. Gavin Hale, propane Education and Research Council. Go to Find out more, you will not be disappointed. That was a great conversation that was PowerGen powered you in 24, New Orleans, Louisiana. And that you need to put that on your calendar for next year. That is a must. If you're in the power. You have any interest in power generation. You'll get answers there. What a great professionals really enjoyed it. All right. You need to be a part of this ecosystem. You need to be a part of Industrial Talk, go out to Industrial and you will find all the information that you need to be a part of that ecosystem. If you have podcasts, yeah, put it out on Industrial Talk. I'll promote it all day long. Just reach out click a button. Let's talk. All right. People, be brave dare greatly say it all the time. Hanging out with Gavin at you will be changing the world. We're gonna have another great conversation coming from PowerGen shortly. So stay tuned.



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