Captain Bernardo Herzer, Chairman, and Founder of LEHR has a passion for creating applications for propane that result in a cleaner planet through environmentally friendly technology. Since 2004 LEHR has been producing propane lawn and garden products as well as the world’s first line of propane-powered outboard motors. LEHR products are clean-burning, propane-fueled and designed to be a reliable replacement for their gasoline-burning counterparts while stemming the overflow of harmful pollutants that they produce.
The benefits to the environment Herzer has created have caught the attention of the Industrial Green Hall of Fame which inducted Captain Herzer and gave him a lifetime achievement award. He has also been recognized by the EPA with a Clean Air Excellence Award. Based in California, Herzer has traveled to all corners of the world promoting propane as the best alternative for an environmentally-friendly fuel to replace gasoline in all types of engines.
Captain Herzer began his maritime career at the age of fourteen and was part of a sailing tour with his family by the age of seventeen. He later owned and captained oceanographic research vessels on many expeditions, including some for the UK Department of Fish and Wildlife, specifically in the North Sea. Concerns about global warming and limits against overfishing led him to a career as an advocate for those issues and a creator of solutions, many of which involved applications that include propane due to its environmentally-friendly benefits.
Concerns about gasoline spillage caused Herzer to begin converting gas-powered engines for land and maritime vehicles even during his teenage years. He later founded LEHR, a self-funded venture, and after his success with lawn and garden, began offering the world’s first OEM propane outboard engines. Different to gasoline, propane is not a water pollutant. He has over 50 patents and offers propane commercial floor polishing and grinding equipment as well as propane scooters in addition to LEHR’s maritime and lawn and garden products.
In 2014, Herzer was appointed Chairman of the WLPGA’s (World LP Gas Association) Marine Group. Key objectives include:
- Create awareness in a coordinated manner on the use of LPG for marine purposes
- Bring the LPG industry and related manufacturers together with aligned activities to grow the marine segment of use as a fuel
- Help educate local and regional legislators to accommodate and promote LPG for marine applications
At the 2017 WLPGA Forum in Marrakesh, Herzer updated attendees on efforts to help update maritime standards internationally for all vessels from small fishing boats to coastal freighters and ferries on up. Herzer says “There is a huge consensus to improve maritime emissions. Until recently, propane has not been utilized as a marine fuel in any meaningful way but when it comes to environment-friendliness as well as economic advantages, propane is the peg that best fits in the hole!”
“In comparison with traditional and alternative fuels such as CNG and LNG, LPG has the distinct advantage of not being a greenhouse gas,” he said, “For example, LNG has a certain amount of fuel that doesn’t burn which is called ‘slippage’ and vessels fueled by LNG release this unburned methane greenhouse gas to the atmosphere.” Herzer doesn’t consider CNG ideal because of the high pressure and low energy density in a compressed gas as well as the high cost of the equipment. “Electric may be fine for automobiles, but propane provides more engine density to power vessels through the water,” he said. Skeptics may point out that propane’s gasoline gallons equivalent (GGE) is 80 percent. This means that a gallon of propane produces 80% of the energy of a gallon of gasoline. However, Herzer notes that a gallon of propane is lighter than premium unleaded gasoline (4.2 pounds vs. 6.5 pounds) meaning it actually packs more punch per pound than gasoline.
What are the big challenges for propane in marine? Propane has the potential to replace other fuels due to its environmental benefits but Captain Herzer points out the need to work on the education of regulators and consumers. Working with the WLPGA, whose members are the stakeholders, manufacturers and LPG distributors worldwide, he is working to switch over to these newer technologies to meet the environmental demands of our changing world.
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