Propane, also known as liquid petroleum gas (LPG), is odorless, non-toxic and is produced as a byproduct in the oil refining process. Propane is the fuel of choice because it is a readily available, high octane and clean burning fuel that cools dramatically when mildly compressed. The distinct odor of propane (mercaptan) is added during refinement to allow sensory detection at concentrations that are below the lower flammability limit and much below the concentration needed for asphyxiation.
Propane is the nation’s third largest motor fuel and the most widely used alternative transportation fuel in the United States and throughout the world. Clean-burning propane has been fueling automobiles since 1913. Most other alternative fuels are barely out of the laboratory, but propane gas has been used in cars and trucks for almost as long as gasoline.
Propane is a Safe Fuel
Like gasoline, propane is flammable, but has a much narrower range of flammability than gasoline and much higher ignition temperature 920- 1020 degrees vs. 80- 300 degrees for gasoline. Propane will only burn with a fuel-to-air ratio of between 2.2% and 9.6% and will rapidly dissipate beyond its flammability range in the open atmosphere-making ignition unlikely.
Propane is non-toxic, unlike gasoline, diesel, methanol and ethanol. If a propane storage tank should ever leak, there would be no contamination danger to the surrounding soil or water.
Since 1984, all new propane tanks are required to have a device that shuts off the filling process when the tank reaches 80% of its liquid capacity. This allows for changes in fuel volume caused by temperature variations.
Propane vehicle tanks are constructed from carbon steel under code developed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). A propane tank is 20 times more puncture-resistant and can withstand up to 4 times the pressure when compared to a typical gasoline, methanol, or ethanol tank. In addition, a properly installed propane tank can actually add to the structural strength of a vehicle.
SAFETY: Propane is considered a safe motor fuel by the federal government. School buses run on propane. Propane vehicle tanks are tested to 4 times the normal operating pressures, and these tanks are 20 times more puncture-resistant than gasoline, methanol or ethanol vehicle tanks. Of methanol, ethanol, CNG or propane, propane has the lowest flammability range -a safety advantage.
MADE IN THE USA: Over 88% of the propane used in this country comes form our own sources. Of this, 70% comes from the processing of natural gas. The U.S., Canada and Mexico have extensive natural gas reserves. More than half, 62% of the remaining 12% is imported from Canada and Mexico.
ENGINE LIFE: Propane’s 104 pump octane rating and low carbon and oil contamination characteristics can result in documented engine life of 2 to 3 times that of gasoline. This is one of the prime reasons for propane’s popularity in delivery fleets, taxis, buses and industrial engines.
COST: Propane is one of the least expensive alternates to gasoline. Methanol and ethanol are among the most costly.