LPG (liquified petroleum gas) is a clean-burning fuel that can be used in everything from fueling your grill and heating your home to running cars, trucks and buses.
The terms LPG and 'propane' are often used interchangeably here in the US, but LPG actually refers to a specific gaseous blend of mostly propane with butane and other gases mixed in.
Its close cousin Natural Gas has long been a top fuel of choice for the US power generation market and for home heating and cooking in this country.
Consumers around the world also use these compressed as transportation fuels. LPG/propane gas and its related mixtures LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) and CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) are more widely used to fuel vehicles in Europe and Asia than in the United States.
India has millions upon millions of small scooters and rickshaws that are solely powered by cylinders of compressed LPG and CNG.
The United States lags far behind the rest of the world in using LPG in other uses beyond just heating and cooking.
This is getting ready to change. The Green fuels revolution is upon us.
The increasing popularity of, and emphasis on, "green" fuels and practices is influencing many areas of the US economy, especially those areas concerned with energy productions and transportation.
City and county municipalities are getting mandates from the top to be more "green" and incorporate more alternative green fuels into their fuel use portfolio. One obvious result of this is the rising popularity of LPG-powered buses and fleets.
Bell Performance’s home turf of Orlando, Florida has a whole fleet of buses (the Lynx system) that run almost entirely on LPG fuel. This rising wave of demand for all things green is also giving US automakers more incentive to produce a greater number of cars and trucks that can be powered by either gasoline, diesel or LPG fuels.
With this influx of these kind of flex alternative fuel vehicles comes greater awareness of the downsides of the LPG gas fuels. To be sure, LPG as a vehicle fuel has some nice upsides. The downsides can also be seen as well.
Pure LPG burns very cleanly with fewer toxic emissions than gasoline or diesel.
However, this environmental advantage comes with downsides of reduced mileage per unit of fuel and also the possibility of buildup of deposits within injectors and vehicle fuel systems.
Pure LPG burns very cleanly, but modern refinery cracking methods produce LPG for the consumer marketplace that contains deposit-produced polymers and long-chain compounds that are not ideal for an engine's long term life and performance.
LPG users also have to watch out for fuel that burns very dryly, leading to risk of valve recession and wear in their engines.
Drivers in Poland and the Czech Republic (countries with much larger populations of LPG-powered automobiles than the US) see this as a chronic problem, which leads to brisk sales of lubricant products that serve to act as lead used to act in gasoline here.
The same type of issues can be seen in non-vehicle systems which burn LPG for heat or other applications.
Home consumers of natural gas can recognize differences in flame strength and color, as well as the smoke-producing effects on polymerized LPG gas in their fuel storage system.
The presence of water and polymers brought along the distribution system end up in the consumer's fuel storage system, leaving end users with heavy molecular deposits that don't burn with the cleanliness or efficiency that the pure LPG product does.