Propane

What is Propane?k7256261

Also known as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or propane autogas, propane is a clean-burning alternative fuel that’s been used for decades to power light-, medium-, and heavy-duty propane vehicles.

Propane is a three-carbon alkane gas (C3H8). It is stored under pressure inside a tank as a colorless, odorless liquid. As pressure is released, the liquid propane vaporizes and turns into gas that is used in combustion. An odorant, ethyl mercaptan, is added for leak detection.Propane is a byproduct of natural gas processing and crude oil refining. As of 2020, more than 93% of the U.S. propane supply was produced in North America.

Propane is shipped from its point of production to bulk distribution terminals via pipeline, railroad, barge, truck, or tanker. Propane marketers then purchase propane at terminals and distribute the fuel to customers, including retail or private fueling stations.

Chemically identical to conventional propane, renewable propane is produced from biomass-based feedstocks, including used cooking oil, animal fats, or 20% dimethyl ether. Renewable propane is currently produced in limited quantities at biodiesel refineries.

How is Propane Made?

Propane is a by-product from two sources: natural gas processing and crude oil refining. Propane is a byproduct of natural gas processing and crude oil refining. As of 2020, more than 93% of the U.S. propane supply was produced in North America. Propane is shipped from its point of production to bulk distribution terminals via pipeline, railroad, barge, truck, or tanker. Propane marketers then purchase propane at terminals and distribute the fuel to customers, including retail or private fueling stations.

Chemically identical to conventional propane, renewable propane is produced from biomass-based feedstocks, including used cooking oil, animal fats, or 20% dimethyl ether. Renewable propane is currently produced in limited quantities at biodiesel refineries.

Also known as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), propane is an odorless hydrocarbon (C3H8) gas at normal pressures and temperatures. It is the same propane used for residential heating, cooking, and grills. Propane that is marketed and sold exclusively for use in motor vehicles is sometimes branded as Autogas, to reflect that it is measured, taxed, and dispensed as a vehicle fuel.

What are the Benefits of Using Propane?

Propane vehicles can produce fewer ozone-forming emissions than vehicles powered by reformulated gasoline. In addition, tests on light-duty, bi-fuel vehicles have demonstrated a 98% reduction in the emissions of toxics, including benzene, 1,3 butadiene, formaldehyde, and acetaldehyde, when the vehicles were running on propane rather than gasoline.

The cost of a gasoline-gallon equivalent of propane is generally less than that of gasoline, so driving a propane vehicle can save money. In addition, propane is the most accessible of all alternative fuels. In the United States approximately 3,000 publicly accessible facilities offer propane.

Approximately 85% of all propane used in this country comes from domestic sources, so driving a propane vehicle can help reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil and strengthen national energy security.

*The information above was obtained from the Alternative Fuels Data Center, which is a great technical resource on all alternative fuels and vehicles. 

Renewable Propane

Renewable propane has the same features as conventional propane ā€” reliability, portability, power, and reduced carbon emissions ā€” but with even lower carbon emissions when compared with other energy sources.

Unlike conventional propane, renewable propane can be made from a variety of renewable feedstocks. The most common form of renewable propane today is a byproduct of renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel made primarily from plant and vegetable oils, animal fats, or used cooking oil. *Information from the Propane Education and Research Council