Alternative Fuels, Vehicles, And Sources
So what is an alternative fuel? Simply put, it’s anything that bypasses the two big traditional petroleum fuels: gasoline and diesel. The Energy Policy Act of 1992 included propane in its definition of an alternative fuel.
According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, 60% of alternative-fuel vehicles nationwide run on propane, from school buses and fleet trucks to forklifts, lawnmowers and farm tractors. Overall, autogas is the third most popular vehicle fuel, next to gasoline and diesel.
Autogas is the term used to describe propane when it is used as a fuel for vehicles. Autogas is the world’s most popular alternative fuel. In fact, there are more than 300,000 vehicles in the U.S. that have been manufactured or converted to use autogas.
Its popularity has led to an array of innovations in OEM-supported vehicles that use the fuel, including light- and medium-duty trucks, vans and shuttles.
Additionally, there are now about 15,000 propane-powered buses in the country transporting nearly one million children to school each day, and that number keeps increasing.
Buses fueled with propane autogas are crash-tested for impact in the side and rear, meeting rigorous motor vehicle safety standards.
Propane School Bus Facts
Kids are benefiting from a healthier ride to and from school as well because propane school buses get an A+ as far as meeting emissions standards is concerned. Studies have shown that, when compared with the old diesel buses they have replaced, buses fueled by propane autogas:
- emit 80% fewer smog-producing hydrocarbons
- reduce nitrogen-oxide emissions by about 10,000 pounds
- lower particulate matter by 315 pounds
Propane vs. diesel vehicles: which saves you more?
Here are three key areas where propane-fueled vehicles have an edge over diesel powered ones.
Fuel: You can generally count on an average savings of 30 to 40 % per mile driven with autogas, considering both the cost of the fuel itself and expected fuel economy. The cost of wholesale propane falls between the cost of oil and natural gas—propane’s two fuel sources. Because of this, propane autogas consistently costs less than diesel fuel, even when prices fluctuate.
Fluids: New, lower emissions diesel technology presents extra costs because diesel emissions fluid needs to be purchased, stored and changed. Plus, in cold temperatures, diesel vehicles need anti-gel fluids to prevent fuel filters and fuel lines from clogging. If your fleet runs on propane autogas, you will benefit from reliable performance in any type of weather without the need and extra expense of additional fluids.
Filters: To meet emissions requirements, today’s diesel technology requires diesel particulate filters that must be cleaned. Excessive idling accelerates cleaning intervals. These extra maintenance expenses just add more to the total cost of ownership.
Propane vs. electric vehicles: which is cleaner?
There has been much talk about achieving net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2050, and transitioning to all-electric vehicles has been a big part of the conversation because electricity is considered a “clean fuel” by many.
Although a battery-powered electric car itself doesn’t produce any emissions, the power plant that generates the electricity used to charge those batteries probably does.
And those power plants, many of them coal-fired, are among the largest sources of greenhouse gas pollution in the United States.
Converting engines to autogas
For fleet owners who want the cost benefits of propane autogas but need the flexibility of a gasoline backup or who aren’t ready to purchase new vehicles, EPA-certified bi-fuel conversion kits can be installed on existing vehicles.
You can count on propane refueling technology to deliver as dependably as the vehicles themselves. Refueling with propane autogas is quick, quiet and safe. It’s the same experience as refueling with diesel or gasoline, making the transition to propane autogas easy for fleets.