Fuel Fact Check: Propane Is a Dirty Fuel


Myth: Propane is a dirty fuel


When considering alternative fuels and options that are better for the environment, many fleet owners are overlooking propane autogas, thinking it is a dirty fuel. But this is not the case.

The Natural Resources Defense Council says any energy that burns oil, gas and coal endangers people’s health and causes climate change is dirty. Propane autogas is often put into this “dirty” box because it is a fossil fuel. What most people don’t consider is that it is one of the cleanest-burning fossil fuels.

Propane autogas, which is non-toxic, non-carcinogenic and non-corrosive, is so clean it is classified as an alternative fuel by the U.S. Department of Energy. It poses no harm to soil or groundwater. Additionally, propane is an approved clean fuel listed in the 1990 Clean Air Act.

Using propane also means fleet owners are reducing the emissions put out into the world. Vehicles that run on propane emit fewer greenhouse gases, smog-producing hydrocarbons and particulate emissions than conventional fuels. It is naturally lower in nitrogen oxides (NOx) than diesel and gasoline. NOx emissions are federally regulated due to their negative impact on human health and the environment. They can trigger health problems, such as asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory issues, and environmental problems, such as acid rain and deteriorated water quality.

In addition to offering clean benefits for people and air quality, propane is a safe option. Its fuel tanks are 20 times more puncture-resistant than gasoline or diesel tanks. They are constructed from carbon steel in compliance with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Vehicle noise levels are also reduced by about 50% when compared to diesel, allowing drivers to focus more on the road ahead. And unlike gas or diesel, propane is part of a close-looped system, meaning the fuel is never exposed to air and won’t spill – yet another clean aspect of this clean fuel.

Bottom line? Propane autogas is not a dirty fuel. In fact, it is one of the cleanest and most economical options available for commercial fleets. It allows fleets to maintain their heavy workload while lowering emissions and prioritizing safety.

Todd Mouw is president of ROUSH CleanTech. He has more than two decades of experience in the automotive and high-tech industries. As former president of the NTEA Green Truck Association, Mouw helped set standards in the green trucking industry. To learn more, visit ROUSHcleantech.com.

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Paul Gehl
Paul Gehl
4 years ago

What a propaganda headline. NGT is turning into CNN. You are intentionally propping up EVs and fighting the truth. RNG is the cleanest burning fuel on the planet. RNG is created from pollution and turning into clean effective fuel for current ICE engines. The tech we have currently in our economy.

4 years ago

Just because the fuel is the cleanest of the dirty, does not mean it is clean.

Once you account for upstream emissions, propane quickly becomes one of the dirtiest.