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Propane & The Environment

Propane & The Environment

If you’re striving to live a more sustainable lifestyle, you’re probably considering how the products you use have an impact on the world around you. From what you eat to what you throw away and how you power your car and home, you have a number of choices every day that can contribute to a healthier planet.

Energy is one of those major choices. The Environmental Protection Agency says the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere are largely from carbon emissions from the burning of oil and gas, with transportation, electricity production, and industry accounting for nearly 80% of that in 2018. Burning fossil fuels for heat in homes and businesses added another 12%. That pollution contributes to global climate change, which is impacting the weather as well as our food and water supply.

You have to turn on the lights, drive a car, and stay warm at home and at work, so what can you do? There’s an alternative to high-polluting fuel sources. When it comes to heating your home, operating a variety of equipment, and driving a vehicle, you can use propane.


Is Propane Bad for the Environment?

Propane is an environmentally-friendly choice. While it does emit a low level of carbon dioxide, it’s relatively clean burning when compared to gas or diesel. It does not emit sulfur dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides, and other wastes. The 1990 Clean Air Act lists it as an approved source for clean energy.

propane tanks

It’s also a safer choice. Even though liquid propane is damaging to skin, it doesn’t harm the soil, lakes, groundwater, or ocean. If propane spills, it simply turns to vapor, and that vapor is only harmful to humans when you inhale extremely high concentrations. It’s rare for anyone to be exposed to levels that high in a typical leak or spill situation. Though propane itself has no odor, propane companies typically add mercaptan to the fuel as a safety measure. This is a foul-smelling but harmless gas that makes a propane leak easy to smell and identify.

The list of environmental benefits of propane goes on:

  • It dissipates quickly
  • It doesn’t pollute the air
  • Because it emits less carbon dioxide, it doesn’t contribute as much to acid rain
  • It’s safer to transport propane than other fuels
  • Propane spills and leaks are less damaging to the environment than other fuels when they spill

Propane’s Environmental Impact

Because of its reduced environmental impact, propane is a preferred fuel source for a variety of applications and industries:

Two white propane tanks with valves
  • Factories and Warehouses: Harmful emissions from propane forklifts are 19% lower than emissions from forklifts that run on gasoline.
  • Landscaping: Propane mowers are often preferred over gasoline mowers.
  • Agriculture: Propane is a great choice for irrigation engines and other equipment, and it performs well in cold weather. Diesel emits almost 100% more particulate matter than propane.
  • Transportation: Autogas vehicles emit fewer greenhouse gases than gasoline vehicles. The demand for these vehicles is increasing: within the next five years, we may see up to 100% more Autogas vehicles on the road. Propane is also growing in popularity as a fuel choice for buses, taxis, and police vehicles. Though propane holds less energy than gasoline and provides slightly lower fuel efficiency, the high octane rating can lead to improved performance and less maintenance when paired with an optimized engine.
  • Household: Carbon emissions from a propane grill are 50% lower than emissions from a charcoal grill. You can heat your home and run your major appliances on propane.


An infographic explaining propane's environmental impact

With advancing technology and increased awareness of the danger of excessive carbon emissions, more people are turning to propane for a variety of applications. For more than 50 years, IPS Equipment has been a trusted distributor for the propane industry. Each high-quality product is backed by decades of experience and friendly, attentive service. Contact us to learn more about our family of solutions for the propane industry.