Release 91-05
June 20, 1991
CONTACT:  Jerry Martin
(916) 322-2990

State Air Quality Officials Testing New, Easy-to-Use, Anti-Smog Gas Pump Nozzle

        SACRAMENTO - The California Air Resources Board (ARB) today began testing the newest, lightweight gas pump nozzle designed to capture smog-forming vapors in service stations -- and the first without the accordion-like seals that some motorists contend make the nozzles more difficult to use.

        In a high tech version of "something old being new again," the new nozzle, developed by Amoco Oil Company of Chicago, is the first to look like the gas pump nozzles that were common in California service stations before the vapor recovery program began in 1977.

        The new nozzle controls as much pollution during fill-ups as current models, but uses a vacuum created by the flow of gasoline to draw smog-forming hydrocarbon vapors into the underground storage tank, eliminating the need for the accordion-like bellows that capture vapors with existing nozzles. The nozzle captures approximately one gallon of vapors for every gallon of gasoline it dispenses.

        The Amoco nozzle will be available for use throughout the state after the Air Resources Board's 90 day certification test is completed at a Beacon Oil Company service station in Sacramento. The test is to ensure that the nozzle reduces vapor emissions by at least 95 percent each time it is used.

        "This is a form of ‘Back to the Future' for the vapor recovery systems," said James D. Boyd, Air Resources Board executive officer. "It looks like a gasoline pump nozzle out of the past, yet motorists have one solution to modern air quality problems in their hands -- literally -- each time they fill up their gas tank.

        "This was the type of gasoline nozzle we envisioned when we started the vapor recovery program and we think it has the potential to set the standard for future recovery systems."

        "The Amoco Stage II vapor recovery system is the result of more than 10 years of engineering research and development work by Amoco Oil Company," said Wolf Koch, Amoco research supervisor.

        "Our nozzle is less bulky than traditional Stage II systems and is therefore easier to use and more user-friendly than other models," he continued. "In fact, the system is transparent to the customer. In addition, our vapor flow control valve inside the nozzle effectively eliminates the possible spillage of gasoline vapor condensates which can collect in vapor return hoses, and, as a result, is more beneficial to the environment."

        The use of high-tech materials has cut the weight of vapor recovery nozzles by about 50 percent since they were introduced. The Amoco nozzle continues that trend, in part by eliminating the bellows-like seal, which also eliminates an added source of pollution when it tears or breaks down from lack of maintenance -- one of the biggest causes of enforcement citations issued to service station operators by air pollution inspectors.

        Vapor recovery nozzles on gas pumps are the most visible part of a system designed to capture hydrocarbons that otherwise would be vented to the air where they form urban smog. Similar vapor collection devices are used to unload tanker ships, on refineries, bulk loading terminals and on gasoline tanker delivery trucks, producing an airtight gasoline distribution network.

        The ARB estimates that the statewide vapor recovery system, including nozzles in 14,000 service stations, captures about 2,000 tons of hydrocarbon vapors a day. Some of the vapor is condensed back into liquid gasoline, estimated to save about 15 million gallons of gasoline per year, about a one-day supply for California.

        In addition to reducing hydrocarbon that forms urban smog, vapor recovery nozzles reduce personal exposure to benzene, a highly toxic component of gasoline vapor.

        The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

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