Illustration for article titled Advocates Want To Grill And Drive With Propane Power

A cleaner-burning fuel than unleaded with an average price of under $3 per gallon, propane is an appealing alternative fuel, despite its lower energy content when compared to gasoline. Brian Feehan, VP of the Propane Education and Research Council, is aiming to have 10 percent of "select auto fleets" running on propane by 2017. That sounds like a lazy goal to us, as there are already about 11 million propane-fueled vehicles on the world's roads today. The technology is ready, but what is holding the US market back? As is with any alternative fuel, the first problem is infrastructure. There are about 12,500 propane fueling stations in the country today, but according to Feehan, only 2,500 are open to the public. Compare that to the approximately 162,000 gasoline stations, and you can see the problem. Relative to gasoline tanks, propane tanks are also bigger and heavier. The cost of converting your car is pretty heavy too: about $10,000 for an EPA-certified kit. But non-certified kits are allegedly available for under $1000 and are said to be just as safe, at least by the folks selling them. Finally, there's the energy density issue. Propane has to fall to a price point equal to about 80% of the cost of a gallon of gasoline before it makes sense from a mileage issue; add in the cost of conversion and the inconvenience of filling it up, and we've got a ways to go before propane is as easy to find as unleaded. [DetNews]


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