You usually think of propane heating your home or your grill, not powering your lawnmower. I discovered that more and more engines are being propane powered. Propane fuels more than ten million vehicles worldwide. Compared to gasoline, propane produces 12 percent less carbon dioxide and 20 percent less nitrous oxide and as much as 60 percent less carbon monoxide. The Palmetto State Clean Fuels Coalition held its Fifth Anniversary Celebration Wednesday at the State Fair Grounds. The focus this year was on propane.
Jim Coker with Onyx Environmental Solutions in Stanley, NC sells propane-powered mowers. He says propane machines or conversions sell themselves, for good reason. “There are 80 percent less omissions and less fuel costs. Not only for the cost of the fuel, but also no theft (and) no spillage or burnt hydro-carbons in your engine so your engine is going to last about 30 percent longer,” said Coker.
Corky Clark directs the South Carolina Propane Association. He says some vehicles are converted to run just from propane saying, “and we have systems that are hybrid, from propane and from a gasoline engine, so you get the best of both worlds.”
That’s the kind of vehicles that the Jackson County, GA Sheriff Department owns. Sheriff Stan Evans has bought 30 propane patrol cars. His entire fleet of 50 cars will be propane by year’s end. Evans says it saves taxpayers money. According to Evans, “We’re saving right now probably 40 cents a gallon on the fuel itself, then we’re getting a 50 cent a gallon rebate from the federal government.”
Evan’s department pays to retrofit patrol cars using money from the sell of properties seized during drug busts.
GM and Ford are now making propane-powered trucks. Proponents say the fuel savings are around 30 percent, and the vehicles are cleaner burning and longer lasting. Government officials are pleased that propane would make many of the state’s vehicles independent of foreign oil in the case of a hurricane or other emergencies.
Propane also powers many school buses. Rusty Mitchell is an executive with Bluebird Corporation in Ft. Valley, GA. Around 80 percent of Bluebird’s buses produced each year are propane-powered. Mitchell says the technology offers considerable savings. “The economics makes sense,” said Mitchell. “It’s the lowest entry into alternative fuel for anything in the school bus industry. We can see this industry growing.”
Not to mention that propane isn’t that difficult to find. As a matter of fact, there now 126 propane fueling stations in South Carolina. Erika Meyers is with the Renewable Energy Coalition. She says, “anywhere there’s a propane dealer, there’s a propane pump you can use to fill your car. Also, just about every U-Haul station has a propane pump.”
Government officials like the idea that 90 percent of the U.S. propane supply is produced domestically and most of the remaining ten percent is imported from Canada and Mexico.