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Marine News from the Great Lakes

Lehr CEO leads clean boating with propane

Published: Thursday, July 2, 2015

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Matching one's passion with one's vocation usually leads to wonderful results. That is exactly
what happened when Captain Bernardo Herzer mixed his love for boating with his life's work of
developing propane­fueled small engines.

Herzer, a licensed ship's captain, spent his youth at sea. He developed a passion for the water
that led him to becoming not only a captain but a ship owner. He's logged over 40,000 nautical
miles at sea and his research vessels have done important studies on technology's impact on
the world's oceans. Those studies have led him to spend decades developing propane­powered
engines for a variety of uses, from mowers and hand tools for landscaping to generators and
now marine engines.

“I spent a couple of years working on developing a propane engine for a hand­held string
trimmer,” Herzer said. “Propane is a great alternative to gasoline for a number of reasons. On
average it's about 30 percent cheaper than gasoline. Plus propane burns a lot cleaner, with
about 65 percent less carbon emissions than gasoline.

“Propane has taken over many segments of the automotive industry, including powering taxi
fleets in some of the busiest metropolitan areas in the country. The conversion to propane has
also increased air quality. People don't like being around cancer­causing chemicals if they can
help it.”
If Herzer's credentials as a sea captain are impressive, his credentials as a captain of industry
are equally impressive. He holds over 50 patents and has won numerous awards and prizes
over the years for his inventions. He is also the founder and CEO of Lehr, which he started after
he noticed gasoline spillage polluting the water on a voyage in the North Sea. Those spills and
how to prevent them were the genesis of Herzer's propane­powered inventions.

“The great thing about propane is it's a closed system,” he said. “That means when you have
propane powering your marine engine you don't have to worry about your fuel leaking into the
water and leaving a sheen on the water. There is no overflow or venting needed. We've all been
there, and it's somewhat embarrassing when it happens. Even if you did leak propane, it
evaporates at ­30 degrees celsius so it would be gone before it even touched the water.”
While Herzer's vision is still in it's infancy, particularly in the marine segment, he's seen growth
in other areas of his business. That growth leads him to believe his marine dreams will succeed
as well.

“We have our products on the shelves and out for retail now,” Herzer said. “It was the perfect
time to match what we were doing with my love for being out on the water. I know there will be a
great response to propane as a motor fuel. Many boaters are already using propane to fuel
other systems on their boat, and it's readily available and can be delivered right to the dock.”
Propane has taken over many segments of the automotive industry, including powering taxi
fleets in some of the busiest metropolitan areas in the country. The conversion to propane has
also increased air quality.

In the near future, the performance of propane­fueled marine engines will continue to develop,
driving continued growth in the segment. That is a positive for innovators like Capt. Herzer, for
cost­conscious boaters and for the environment.


tags: Engines

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