The Cavagna Group: Innovating Solutions to Increase LPG Use

Whether it’s scaling the highest peaks in the world or exploring the deepest depths of the ocean — lighting the Olympic Torch or the backyard barbecue — the Cavagna Group makes it possible with its compressed gas valve and regulator products. The Cavagna Group helped Ardito Desio reach Pakistan’s K2 summit in Cavagna-for-photos-1introImage1954 by using a specially designed alloy breathing air valve. The company supplied the valve and regulator system for 12,000 Olympic torches used during the 2006 Winter Games in Turin. And in 2010, Cavagna’s post-medical valves were used in the dramatic rescue of the 33 Chilean miners trapped underground for 69 days. These and many other achievements were made possible in part by the innovations of the Cavagna Group.

The Cavagna Group began as a small company in 1949 when Paolo Cavagna and his five sons opened a factory to transform non-ferrous metals after World War II. The factory was located north of Milan, Italy, in Brescia, a city historically known for its metallurgical industry, mechanical and automotive engineering, and machine tools. Within a few years, with the family’s hard work, the Cavagnas expanded their activity to manufacturing finished products for LPG. Today, the company employs approximately 1000 people worldwide and continues to be operated by Paolo’s descendants.

The Cavagna Group consists of nine vertically integrated production companies in Italy, and nine others spread across the five continents. Products are sold in more than 135 countries worldwide, making Cavagna one of the leading manufacturers of equipment and components for controlling compressed gases (energy gases, alternative fuel gases, medical gases, industrial gases, and specialty and cryogenic gases). Currently, Cavagna is divided into six divisions: LPG regulators, LPG valves and tank equipment, high-pressure equipment, natural gas and metering, alternative fuel systems, and engineering services.

According to company CEO Davide Cavagna, today’s dynamic market calls for a strong proactive approach for identifying solutions to the challenges that families and industry face today. “The social impact of constantly rising fuel costs, the need for alternative fuels, and sustainable environmental practices are pressing issues that can’t be ignored. The Cavagna Group is working to identify new LPG markets that will help address some of these issues, including developments in the autogas industry and the manufacture and distribution channels needed to convert vehicles and equipment to LPG. Additionally, our innovative Greengear project also moves the industry forward by focusing on converting a variety of small gasoline-powered engines to propane,” said the Cavagna Group CEO.

With innovation, safety, and reliability the three cornerstones of Cavagna’s business model, the company stresses research and development. It has developed partnerships with European institutions and universities to conduct research and development for each of its product lines. The group has introduced several new products in 2014.

Freespace for All Taxi

This summer Cavagna unveiled a new taxi vehicle for the disabled in Milan. The taxi is the product of a partnership between Cavagna Group, Rolfi (an Italian company that specializes in vehicle modifications for the disabled), and French automaker Citroen. The new taxi, named the Citroen Berlingo Freespace for All, features a hybrid bi-fuel engine (Cavagna provided the technology needed to power the car on LPG), an innovative fuel tank, and a low floor that allows the original vehicle chassis to be used. The taxi modifications allow a disabled person in a wheelchair to easily and quickly be loaded by ramp. The taxi can be returned to its five-seat arrangement when a disabled person is not on board. The environmentally friendly taxi is an advancement over previous vehicles that rely on elevators and raised roofs to accommodate wheelchairs.

With Milan hosting the 2015 World’s Fair, city officials in the traffic-choked metropolis are advocating for the use of these eco-friendly vehicles to accommodate disabled passengers and reduce pollution.

ENERKIT

Another Cavagna innovation in 2014 is its ENERKIT conversion line, technology that allows traditional and OEM combustion engines powered by gasoline to easily be converted to propane. From outdoor power equipment to off-road vehicles, ENERKIT is committed to supporting the increased use of LPG fuel for a healthier, more economical, and more environmentally friendly lifestyle. By replacing the carburetor, ENERKIT enables small engines to be converted to LPG, thus lowering emissions, reducing the need for engine maintenance, and eliminating gasoline spills.Cavagna-for-photos-2

The ENERKIT conversion kit comes in two categories: ENERKIT Basic and ENERKIT Plus. The ENERKIT Basic is designed for mono-fuel, two- and four-stroke engines from 20 cc to 450 cc for equipment such as lawnmowers, power generators, water pumps, and pressure washers. The LPG carburetor is installed between the air filter and intake manifold and comes in three models for hand-held tools such as trimmers powered by cartridges, walk-behind/recreational equipment such as lawnmowers powered by cartridges or small cylinders, and free-standing equipment such as generators powered by cylinders.

ENERKIT PLUS converts 250-cc to 850-cc four-stroke engines (for products such as riding mowers, turf vehicles, industrial equipment, forklifts, and riding mowers) to LPG.



Yet another innovation is the introduction of Greengear, a global brand of propane-powered equipment for cleaner, safer, and lower-cost operation. Cavagna’s mission is to increase consumer awareness and knowledge of LPG/propane fuel. The Greengear product line includes lawnmowers and generators (shown at left), riding mowers, snow blowers, water pumps, barbecues, heaters, and additional everyday equipment. All these products use Cavagna’s ENERKIT technology. “These innovative products support the propane industry globally by providing consumers greener and safer alternatives to traditional gasoline engine equipment,” said Greengear director Giorgio Basaglia. “With environmental concerns increasingly shaping consumers’ purchasing decisions, policymakers and governments will be further challenged to address the need for reducing emissions,” added Basaglia.

As a second-generation family business, the Cavagna Group remains firmly committed to its three core principles: safety, innovation, and reliability, as well as developing new products that serve to further the use of LPG as an alternative fuel — from the top of the world to the bottom of the world — and nearly every place in between.      —Andrea Young