Propane in America: Independence for People and for a Nation
Industries located in areas without natural gas pipelines often rely on propane gas to provide efficient, on-site power for energy-intensive applications, including furnaces, boilers, engines, and cooking and refrigeration equipment.
In the mining industry remote locations are the norm. Energy supplies typically have to be brought to the site. Propane offers a cleaner, more environmentally safe, and often cheaper alternative to diesel for powering generators and vehicles. In cold climates underground mines usually require heated air ventilation, often powered by propane.
Remote locations are also a feature of the oil and gas industry which produces propane in the first place. Propane can return the favor by helping to power the extraction of additional oil and natural gas (which contains propane) through the use of propane-powered drilling rigs, flaring assistance burners, oil and water heaters, pumps, compressors, forklifts, propane-fueled vehicles, and heaters and cook stoves for worker housing units.” Fuel savings can be 20 to 30 percent over diesel-powered equipment.
Of course, there are many commercial establishments including hotels and restaurants located beyond the reach of natural gas infrastructure that rely on propane for space heating, hot water and cooking. Truly remote establishments may use propane to power generators for electricity.
One major industrial application found right in the city is the propane-powered forklift. Those forklifts keep warehouse air far cleaner than diesel-powered forklifts while helping to keep the supply chain throughout the United States moving.
Forklifts are just one example of the use of propane autogas or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as transportation fuel. Autogas allows fleet vehicles, such as school buses, to lower greenhouse gas emissions while reducing operating costs. School districts save money and can redirect transportation funds back to the classroom. An example in Washington state demonstrates the economic benefits of switching school fleets to propane vehicles:
Oak Harbor Public Schools estimates that its fleet of propane school buses saves the district around $35,000 in fuel costs annually compared to their conventional fuel counterparts. In addition, vehicle maintenance and service time for the propane buses has been cut in half, leaving the school district with an additional $700 or more in savings per propane bus each year.
Propane is also showing that it works well in hybrid electric vehicles, and that aids fleet owners in meeting their emission targets while bringing down maintenance costs. Propane-burning engines typically require less maintenance than their diesel- and gasoline-burning counterparts. In addition, propane-electric vehicles are one more way in which propane use can help reduce smog.
Propane and the Environment
Speaking of smog, just as important as what propane is contributing to America and its people is what it is NOT contributing: noxious emissions. Vehicles that normally run on diesel fuel such as school buses release up to 96 percent less nitrogen oxides when fueled by propane instead. Nitrogen oxides are harmful to the human respiratory tract and can also form acid rain in the environment. Beyond this, propane-powered vehicles also release up to 13 percent less carbon dioxide, the major component of greenhouse gas emissions, than comparable diesel-powered vehicles.
The combination of a low-carbon, clean-burning fuel that powers our economy while providing employment and reducing our trade deficit is a win-win-win for the people of America and the businesses they work for. Propane is demonstrating that it is an important part of a winning strategy for fueling America’s future.