Propane, also known as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG or LP-gas) or autogas, has been used worldwide as a vehicle fuel for decades. Stored under pressure inside a tank, propane turns into a colorless, odorless liquid. As pressure is released, the liquid propane vaporizes and turns into gas that is used for combustion. An odorant, ethyl mercaptan, is added for leak detection.
Propane has a high octane rating and excellent properties for spark-ignited internal combustion engines. It is non-toxic and presents no threat to soil, surface water, or groundwater.
Propane is produced as a by-product of natural gas processing and crude oil refining. It accounts for about 2% of the energy used in the United States. Uses include home and water heating, cooking and refrigerating food, clothes drying, powering farm and industrial equipment, and drying corn. Rural areas that do not have natural gas service commonly rely on propane. The chemical industry uses propane as a raw material for making plastics and other compounds. Less than 2% of U.S. propane consumption is used for transportation fuel.
Propane, also known as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), or autogas, is considered an alternative fuel under the Energy Policy Act of 1992. According to the Propane Education and Research Council (below), there are more than 270,000 on-road propane vehicles in the United States. Many are used in fleet applications, such as police cars, shuttles, and school buses.
The development of new light- and medium-duty propane vehicles has surged in recent years for fleet use. Propane vehicles can either be conversions from gasoline vehicles or purchased from OEMs. Engines and fueling systems are also available for heavy-duty vehicles, such as street sweepers and school buses, including some from original equipment manufacturers.
Propane Education & Research Council
The Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) is a check-off program established, operated, and funded by the propane industry. The only energy council of its kind, PERC leads safely and training efforts among propane retailers and consumers and drives technology development to expand adoption of propane as a clean, domestic, and affordable energy source. PERC programs benefit a variety of industries including fleet vehicle management, landscaping, residential and commercial building, agriculture, and material handling.
More Information Located on the Alternative Fuels Data Center