In 2011, the propane industry can expect to see the results of PERC's continuing support for product- and market-focused research and development as well
as expansion of recently launched and already successful initiatives.
More school buses that run on propane autogas will be on the road in 2011 as Collins, the largest manufacturer of smaller Type-A buses in North America, begins the first full production year for its new NexBus propane autogas bus. Blue Bird will be launching an autogas version of its Type-A Micro Bird, in addition to developing the second generation of its full-size Type C Vision propane school bus. Thomas Built, another leading school bus manufacturer, is working with Freightliner Custom Chassis on a full-size propane autogas school bus scheduled for a 2013 launch. PERC assisted in funding all of these products.
PERC will expand the new Marketer Technology Training program, designed to help increase propane sales by showing marketers how to increase awareness of these and other products developed through PERC's agriculture, engine fuel, and research initiatives.
PERC will also expand the Propane Training Academy for builders, architects and others in the construction and remodeling industry as we seek to increase their understanding about propane applications in the residential market, including new home construction, appliance installations, furnace retrofits or new installations, and new technologies. The courses have grown in popularity, rising from 800 registrations in 2008 to 3,919 in 2010.
Having selected a qualified vendor, PERC will transition the industry-standard CETP E-Learning programs to a new, more flexible and cost-effective digital platform.
These are just some of the developments industry
can count on in 2011. But what about next year and beyond? Where will — or should — the next breakthrough come from?
Answering that question will be the goal of the Propane Challenge. In a broad outreach to universities, national and private laboratories, engineering firms, and others with an interest in our nation's energy future, we intend gather innovation ideas and proposals for PERC's research program. Our hope is that the input from the participating thought leaders will help us all better understand the impact of recent technology and how we can apply it to advance the use of propane to serve our customers better.