Request for Proposals for Contaminant Remediation at Bulk LP Gas (Propane) Terminals


 Download Request for Proposals for Contaminant Remediation at Bulk LP Gas (Propane) Terminals  

September 21, 2004

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.

PERC’s programs and projects relate to the “fuels industry” aspect of propane use, not the “feedstock” aspect that relates specifically to the petrochemical industry.

The term “LP Gas” is used generically throughout this project in order to distinguish it from the principal components of LP Gas, namely propane and butane.  When the terms propane, butane, and other members of the light hydrocarbon family of LP Gases are used, it is intended to relate to that specific hydrocarbon.


Project Overview / Objectives
PERC seeks proposals to investigate cost effective methods of cleaning contaminants from LP Gas at local bulk storage plants or small distribution terminals.  Contaminants are defined for the purpose of this project as any matter or material in LP Gas that renders it unsuitable for the intended end use, regardless of any particular specification.  Investigation of the adequacy of any particular specification for a particular end use is not the intent of this project.


Because of the vast LP Gas distribution chain throughout North America encompassing pipelines, barges, underground and aboveground pressure and refrigerated storage, rail car, transport, and bobtail delivery vehicles, there are many ways that product can be contaminated after it leaves the point of production or import.  Further, many storage vessels have been in service for more than 30 years and if never cleaned, may have accumulated substantial amounts of contaminants.

Many traditional LP Gas end use markets may be adequately serviced with “commercial” and/or “HD-5” specification product.  These two common specification products may be delivered into common storage vessels, and the product may come from both gas plants as well as refineries.  Some markets such as engine fuel (autogas), microturbines, and fuel cells appear to be increasingly sensitive to fuel composition.   Installing redundant storage to supply these “fuel composition sensitive” markets, or requiring all product to meet the specification requirements of these specialized markets would add unnecessary additional cost.  Hence, it may be desirable or necessary to remediate or condition the product closer to the point of use, namely at a bulk storage plant or terminal.  This is desirable if it can be done cost effectively.

The on-highway vehicle and forklift markets are the principal focus of this project.  The engine fuel (carburetion) market is experiencing increased pressure for fuel composition consistency in response to ever tighter emission standards.  The growing microturbine market appears to also be sensitive to some fuel composition issues.  Because of the acute sensitivity of some fuel cells to contaminants such as sulfur and water, it is likely that these will be eliminated at the appliance.  Therefore, this project does not encompass conditioning LP Gas in a bulk storage plant suitable for fuel cell use.

An excessive amount of propylene is not permitted in LP Gas; however, the scope of this project does not encompass separating propylene from LP Gas.

The list of contaminants found in numerous laboratory analyses of LP Gas vaporizer deposits is extensive. Not all contaminants are found in all samples, but they include free water, excessive sulfur beyond what is required for odorization, iron particles such as rust, iron oxide/sulphide magnetic residues (black powder), methanol, other insoluble materials such as copper, zinc, lead, tin, silica, aluminum, calcium, plasticizers such as phthalates and adipates (believed to come from rubber hoses), waxes, and lubrication oils.


Proposals to Provide Services Sought / Scope of Work
There are two essential elements to this project: (1) provide a means by which the local plant operator can detect contaminants in product received into or already in a storage tank; and (2) provide a cost effective means of remediation, if possible.  The means by which these objectives are to be achieved will be at the discretion of the contractor, as specified in the submitted proposal.

Gas Processors Association (GPA) specification 2140 sets maximum allowable limits for moisture, free water, volatile residue, residual matter, corrosion, and volatile sulfur.  It is widely believed that the vast majority of LP Gas supplied to the U.S. market meets the applicable specification at the point of production or import.  However, what actually ends up with the customer is subject to some uncertainty.  Whether any “spec” product is adequate for certain end uses may be questionable.  As mentioned, the distribution system offers many ways in which product can “fall out of spec,” including years of contaminant accumulation that may exist in storage tanks.  From the contaminants listed above, it can be readily seen that there are some contaminants for which there are no allowable amounts specified.  Please note that it is not the objective of this project to set standards.  Rather, the results of this project should specify practical means of identifying contaminants and finding a means of providing a fuel spec to satisfy the end use requirement regardless of the contamination source.

In detecting contaminants, a precise quantification, i.e. certain parts per million (ppm), microns, or percentages other than mentioned below is not necessary.  A “pass-fail” based on GPA specs may be adequate, although such compounds as methanol or plasticizers have no standards.  The contractor will be expected to suggest possible limits.

The GPA spec for residual matter (500 ppm) may not be adequate in all cases for the engine fuel market, which is a prime focus of this project.  Based on the experience of other countries with an end use market profile similar to the U.S., a 100 ppm maximum residual matter spec has been adopted for engine fuel. Because of increasingly tighter vehicle emission standards and the need for advanced fuel system technology such as direct injection, the contractor should consider conditioning LP Gas to 100 ppm of residual matter at the local bulk plant or storage terminal.  Other GPA specs are adequate for targeting the degree of conditioning, and where there are no specific limitations for methanol, or micron size for rust removal, the contractor should provide a range of conditioning possibilities.

It is unlikely that a single device or technology can accomplish all conditioning issues itemized above.  There may be several possible solutions, but some may not be possible at a cost effective level.  Yet the purpose of this investigation is to tackle the means that are reasonable.  The following list contains the expected minimum deliverables for this project:

  1.  A means to cost-effectively detect the presence of contaminants described herein in a bulk storage container.
  2. Determine whether the GPA 2140 specifications for contaminants in LP-gas are sufficient to allow compliance with current and foreseeable emissions specifications for over-the-road vehicles and forklift applications.
  3. Where GPA 2140 has no limitations for specific contaminants, suggest maximum allowable contaminant concentrations such that compliance with the emissions specifications in #2 above might be achieved.
  4. Provide a cost-effective means for conditioning the LP Gas by reducing or eliminating those contaminants having an impact on emissions compliance specifications described in #2 above.  This step should provide the following information:
    • What devices, technologies, and processes are available to address the problem.
    • How each potential solution can be incorporated into typical bulk plant operations.
    • Schematics and diagrams for each potential solution.
    • Service requirements for each potential solution.
    • Capital and maintenance costs involved.


The successful contractor will be intimately familiar with the LP Gas industry, its codes, regulations, and common practices used throughout the industry.  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.  In addition, a contractor should demonstrate a practical approach and a strong orientation to making recommendations that can be implemented in the intended environment without excessive modification to either the plant or its personnel.

Project completion dates will be an important factor in selecting a contractor.  PERC anticipates this project will be completed within six months of the awarding of the project, which is anticipated to be December 9, 2004.



  1. Given the various skill sets and requirements surrounding this RFP, PERC may divide the work between more than one vendor.  In so doing, PERC may elect to designate one offeror as the general contractor and other(s) as sub-contractor(s).
  2. PERC, in its sole discretion, also reserves the right to not award to any contract on the proposals received.
  3. PERC may request additional information from any offeror.
  4. Neither this RFP nor the submission of any proposal creates any contract or obligation on the part of PERC.
  5. Should PERC identify a proposal(s) suitable for award, the offeror(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 offeror(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.
  6. 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 an offeror’s 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
Please send all questions regarding this request for proposals in writing via e-mail to Robert Myers 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
For the response to this RFP, applicants are encouraged to follow the format of the five attachments of the PERC funding request form, located at  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 22, 2004.   A disk may also be mailed to:

Gregory Kerr, Director of Research and Development
Propane Education & Research Council
1140 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 1075
Washington, DC 20036
202-452-8975 (phone)