Request for Proposals to Design a Portable Handheld Water Detector for Propane
September 14, 2007

 RFP Portable Handheld Water Detector 


General Information

The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) is a non-profit 501(c) 6 trade organization authorized by the Propane Education and Research Act of 1996 (PERA), Public Law 104-284.  PERC was created “to enhance consumer and employee safety and training, to provide for research and development of clean and efficient propane utilization equipment, and to inform and educate the public about safety and other issues associated with the use of propane.”   This Request for Proposals (RFP) is not subject to any federal or state procurement law or regulation.

A 21-member Board of Directors appointed by the National Propane Gas Association and the Gas Processors Association governs PERC.  Members include propane retail marketers, producers, transporters, and agricultural cooperatives, as well as representatives of allied service and supply industries.


Project Overview / Objectives

PERC seeks proposals to develop a portable hand-held detector to determine the water content of propane.  The detector will be used by propane marketers and distributors to determine the presence of water in propane fuel and will guide the marketers in further treating the fuel, such as the addition of methanol if necessary.



An extensive discussion of the sources of water appears in the reports for PERC Docket 11353 and Docket 11992, which can be found at; hence, they will not be discussed here further. The focus of this project is to develop a water detector to assist propane marketers and distributors in managing fuel quality, regardless of the water source.

Water is introduced into propane in the refinery process, through the the distribution system, by improper cleaning of tanks and vessels after pressure testing or certification, or naturally. Excess water can result in ice formation that impedes the proper operation of equipment such as valves, regulators, filters, pumps, and meters, and it can also plug fuel lines. The presence of water can be difficult to detect in routine fuel distribution practices, but the consequences of icing can be very detrimental. Therefore, the addition of methanol to propane is often used as insurance against icing. Guidelines have been developed for the use of methanol, but the amount of moisture present in the LP Gas stream is needed to provide recommendations of methanol addition to prevent adding excessive or inadequate amounts of methanol. The traditional methods are cobalt bromide (GPA Standard 2140), freeze valve (ASTM Standard D-2713), and length-of-stain tube (ASTM Standard D4888).  All have practical limitations for reliable and/or portable use in the field.


Proposals to Provide Services Sought / Scope of Work

PERC seeks qualified contractors to develop a hand-held water detector for field use by propane marketers and distributors. The developed detector should have the following characteristics:

  • Useable by propane marketers with minimum training and without additional equipment required
  • Have a minimum service interval of 100 samples
  • Portable, low power, and robust for field use, as opposed to laboratory use
  • Display results in common units (for example, parts per million mass). Indications of water ranges, such as “excessive moisture” or “acceptably dry” may also be used
  • Require few, if any, consumables
  • Have an estimated retail cost of no more than $1,000 (in quantities of 1,000 per year)
  • Shall demonstrate an acceptable level of precision and accuracy when compared to more precise laboratory instruments

The contractor shall provide the following deliverables.

  • A working prototype of a handheld water detection device for propane.
  • Data that confirms the performance of the device with commercial propane and water over a variety of conditions, ranging from dry propane to water-saturated propane
  • Estimated manufacturing costs of the finished product, based on a production volume of 1,000 units per year
  • A manufacturing partner with an expressed interest in taking the device into production
  • Contract completion time from the date of contract final execution
    •A final report to document the operational characteristics of the device, the test data described above, and the estimated cost per unit from the manufacturing partner


The contractor must demonstrate and describe its ability to anticipate, coordinate, and carry out all aspects of the project.   Primary qualifications include expertise and significant experience in information gathering, interpretation, and writing.  Project completion dates will be an important factor in selecting a contractor.  PERC anticipates the award date for the project to be December 7, 2007.  Eligible applicants for this solicitation are profit organizations, not-for-profit institutions and organizations, educational institutions, and individuals.


Other Requirements


Responding proposals must include the following specifications.  The specifications are derived from PERC’s funding request form.  The funding request form may be used and is available upon request.


  1. •Statement of the Project
    • Background information about the project
    • Describe any prior projects upon which the proposed project is based or which had the similar goals and objectives as the proposed project
    • Goals, objectives, and anticipated results of the project and planned deliverables
    • Identification of essential personnel expected to participate in the project
    • Status of essential personnel as employee of the applicant, consultant, or contractor
  2. Timeline for the Project
    • Commencement date
    • Completion date
    • Key project stages and activities
    • Dates upon which deliverable(s) will be presented to Council
    • Final Report due date (due not more than 60 days from completion date)
  3. Budget and Statement of Costs
    • Specifically include direct costs, salaries, overhead and subcontractor costs, fees, and expenses
    • Statement of how much the applicant is contributing toward the cost of the project in cash, in-kind, and services
    • Detailed statement of other funding sources contacted or to be contacted, the expected amount of funding from each, the status of each application of funds, and any conditions placed upon the use of funds.  Proposals with matching grants will be looked upon more favorably than others
    • Budget to be broken down by task
  4. Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • An examination of the value(s) of all favorable effects (benefits) to safety, consumer awareness. and/or propane consumption relative to the amount of funding being requested
    • An assessment of the cost effectiveness of the proposed work (this is the ratio of cost per unit of desired results)
    • If applicable, a discussion of possible alternatives that could achieve similar purposes
  5. Evaluation Statement
    • The applicant’s Evaluation Statement should describe roles, responsibilities, performance measures, evaluation methodologies, and data sources.


  1. PERC, in its sole discretion, also reserves the right to not award to any contract on the proposals received.
  2. PERC may request additional information from any submitter.
  3. Neither this RFP nor the submission of any proposal creates any contract or obligation on the part of PERC.
  4. Should PERC identify a proposal(s) suitable for award, the submitter(s) will be required to sign a written agreement for the services sought.  This contract will be an indefinite quantity contract which will permit PERC to order the successful submitter(s)’ review of as few as one program.  The quantity ordered beyond the minimum set forth in any resulting contract shall be at the discretion of PERC.
  5. PERC will not accept any information in any proposal that is designated confidential or proprietary or contains confidential or proprietary information.  PERC cannot and will not guarantee that should such information be submitted that it would be maintained as confidential.  Should a submitter desire to submit proprietary or confidential information, it should contact PERC in advance to discuss whether and how such information may be effectively submitted.

Additional Information

Proposals will be subject to an objective merit review procedure of PERC’s Research and Development Advisory Committee.

Please send all questions regarding this request for proposals and your intentions to bid in writing via e-mail to Greg Kerr at  For copies of the following PERC documents, please visit our web site at

  • Propane Education and Research Act
  • Fact Sheets
  • Press Releases
  • Propane Vision and Technology Roadmap

Submitting Proposals

Proposals are required to be contained in a single file and must be sent in electronic PDF or Microsoft Word format to  They are due at PERC’s office no later than 3 p.m. Eastern on October 12, 2007.  A disk may also be mailed to:

Kaitlin Hoover, Administrative Assistant
Propane Education & Research Council
1140 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 1075
Washington, DC 20036
202-452-8975 (phone)