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In the alternative energy vehicle category, the choices run the gamut from battery-powered and solar, to diesel, wind-driven and everything in between. Though often overlooked, propane-powered vehicles also make the exhaustive list of alt-energy vehicles. Propane-powered vehicles are often referred to by other names including liquefied petroleum gas, LPG, LP gas or LNG vehicles. Regardless of name, LPG is typically touted as a low-carbon, low-polluting fuel that offers the benefit of reduced emissions compared to gasoline. Despite the benefits, LPG has yet to make waves in the automotive industry.

Argonne National Laboratory recently conducted an extensive study to determine the usefulness of LPG as an alternative fuel and discovered that LP gas is practical, easily obtainable and could prove to be less costly than conventional fuels. Argonne concludes:
Enough propane to fuel targeted fleet vehicles appears to be available, with expansion opportunities apparent in the school bus, taxicab, police, and paratransit markets. It is possible to secure long-term contracts for propane at a lower price than conventional fuels, infrastructure is relatively inexpensive to build, new vehicle products are coming online, and an extensive network of 25,000 propane fuel distributors already exists; these facts underscore the very favorable opportunities in place to expand the use of propane in transportation.
As the study predicts, we can expect propane to quickly gain popularity in the commercial fleet market, but the lack of a nationwide infrastructure may keep propane-powered vehicles out of the public's grasp for some time. Click here (PDF) to read the entire Argonne report.

[Source: Argonne National Laboratory | Image: David A. Villa – C.C. License 2.0]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 12 Comments
      • 1 Month Ago
      Um...

      Propane, BTU for BTU, is more expensive than NG, less available, and less popular. Both propane and NG coversions are available out there, but there is a large fleet of NG and propane... not so much.

      If you are gonna move away from gas/diesel NG trumps propane pretty much in every meaningful way.

      NG also has an existing home filling station available in the Fuelmaker which seems like a great idea. NG seems to be very popular in some states, I think Utah is one, not so much in my state.

      • 1 Month Ago
      I was looking into this back in 2008, but couldn't find a certified dealer anywhere near upstate NY to install it.
      • 1 Month Ago
      Ever paid a visit to the EU? LPG is 'an alternative' already for some 40 (?) years here. Mostly in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, less in Germany and Scandinavian countries. High 'octane'-rating, clean burning. Usually after-market installed, with a donut tank at the place of your spare tire.
      • 1 Month Ago
      Propane is a wonderful source of energy, but no. I would rather produce electricity with it and run my EV that way. The energy would use used more efficiently.
      • 1 Month Ago
      they Argonne take you to hell.
      a fossil fuel as the automotive basis for the future... good call. genius.
      • 1 Month Ago
      ...

      You've got to be kidding me, right?

      Where to begin...

      Let's assume that we'll expend the massive amount of time and energy required for the 25-year long conversion (assuming we started selling new cars with said technology ah, yesterday. Add another 5-10 years if not.) away from gasoline to power source X, Y, or Z. Personally, I think I would *first* check to make sure that the power source in question has an abundant availability for well over 100 years at *current* demand, then multiply that demand by 10 for future growth to reflect what the demand will be in 100 years.

      Because without that little addition to this equation, the entire point of the operation will be for naught, and we will have to do the entire conversion thingy over again, possibly even before the conversion is even completed in the first place.

      I really don't think that Natural Gas has that kind of availability, no matter what its current champions like to think. The fact that it's a fossil fuel should be a red flag for this kind of study. You'd just be switching the Oil Problem into a Natural Gas Problem and at best, buying yourself a little time. I really don't think that the amount of time bought is even worth the effort.

      As for the readily available infrastructure? Well, the same people that sell me natural gas for my barbecue are perfectly capable of selling me natural gas for my car.
      • 1 Month Ago
      What's with the location of the intake? Off center=chipped paint on top of the opening.
      • 1 Month Ago
      About that easily obtainable part. Check out Gasland:
      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1558250/
      Trailer:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZe1AeH0Qz8
      • 1 Month Ago
      Where you live maybe.

      In Europe and Asia, we have entire fleets of vehicles running on propane.

      During the Oil Crisis of 08, hundreds of propane filling stations went up locally in short order. They're just as easy to build as gasoline stations. And in a volatile market that sees many smaller gas stations die off due to fuel price fluctuations and fickle demands, a clear majority still remain open.

      The only advantage NG (methane) has over propane is price. Propane has a higher energy content per volume, requires lower pressure containers (and less installation weight) and can be used in a gasoline engine with very few modifications. (the cheapest kits I've seen cost all of $400) These make it ideal for transitioning our current fleet of ICE vehicles before you phase in next-generation transport.

      Of course, we can extract methane from manure and other sources, giving it huge potential as a future front-runner in terms of oil replacements, but as a transition technology, propane has the advantage of low start-up costs, ultra-low running costs, and the ability to utilize existing powerplants and refilling infrastructure (propane can be piggybacked on existing gas stations... all you need is another tank).
      • 1 Month Ago
      Hank Hill approves this post
      • 1 Month Ago
      "So easy, you can even fill whilst wearing short shorts/skirts!"
      • 1 Month Ago
      LNG ≠ LPG.