Alternative Fuel Propane
If asked to name the three most popular transportation fuels in the world, most people would correctly guess gasoline and diesel as the top two, but what about number three? Well, here's a clue: it's one of the cleanest-burning fossil fuels and is used by millions of Americans every day, for everything from moving cargo to heating their homes—and let's not forget… lunch!
If you haven't guessed it by now, Propane - also called LP, LPG or AutoGas - is our alt fuel trivia answer. Propane is a non-toxic gas produced from both natural gas processing and crude oil refining, and nearly all of the LPG used in the U.S. comes from North America.
As a transportation fuel option, Propane has been traveling incognito in terms of public perception, but to be fair, it's been hiding in plain sight. Think about the number of propane stoves, backyard grills, and hot water heaters that are in use right now and you realize how prevalent the use of LP really is.
And that goes for transportation, too. While the number of propane passenger cars on the road is miniscule, many commercial fleets have already turned to propane as a clean, affordable alternative to gasoline or diesel. Compared to gasoline engines, propane vehicles emit 12% less CO2, 20% less Nitrogen Oxide, and up to 60% less Carbon Monoxide.
Many school bus fleets are turning to propane too. Dallas County, Texas operates 500 propane buses, and many others are seeing the benefits of lower cost per mile, as well as lower maintenance costs. But most importantly, cleaner air for their very important passengers.
Take a look at the forklifts stocking the shelves of your local home center. Chances are good there's a propane tank strapped to the back. Many commercial lawn services are turning to propane power, too, as more communities place restrictions on gas-powered mowers.
Toledo-based MedCorp, one of the largest private EMS and medical transport companies in the US, is not only converting its own fleet of ambulances to run on propane, but it started a subsidiary, MedCorp Green, to produce EPA-Certified conversions for others as well.
The EPA reviews and certifies all propane conversion companies and systems to ensure that equipment is properly installed, is safe and durable, and meets the appropriate emissions standards for the vehicle. Handling propane fuel is safe. Refueling a vehicle takes about the same time as for gasoline, and unlike gas or diesel, propane is not harmful to soil or water.
What most propane fleets have in common is the use of centralized refueling sites. While there are propane filling stations and home delivery routes in every state, not all propane vendors are equipped to handle on-road vehicles, which may be subject to additional fuel taxes and often need fuel access after business hours.
Our own recent experience with propane refueling found just one site near our Maryland studios willing to sell propane for road use, and that was by appointment only.
But there is no stronger endorsement of propane's clean performance potential than the name on this truck. Since 2007, Roush Performance has been offering its liquid propane injected F-150 through their network of authorized Ford dealers, and the Roush propane lineup now includes super duty pickups, as well as vans.
Aside from the propane tank in the bed and these modest graphics, you'd be hard-pressed to tell this was anything but a gasoline-powered truck. Converting to propane power only increases the environmental benefits.
BRIAN FEEHAN: We now use liquid injection technology for a lot of our new OEM products, as well as the vapor systems that are still available today for some of the aftermarket systems that we see.
Propane is about 30% less expensive on a per gallon basis than gasoline on a national average. So fleets, if they want to be green and sustainable, have the opportunity with propane to be green, to be sustainable, but at the same time have a cost effective fuel solution.