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Old 04-20-2008, 12:07 AM   #1
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Propane power?

Well, since there's no forum that this seems to quite fit this, guess here'll do.

Basic question, what do y'all think about propane power? Setting aside the conversion price, from what I'm reading, it looks like a good idea. Cheaper fuel, cleaner burning, better for the engine (reduces maintenance costs), usually little to no change in mileage or power. Oh, and the supply is domestic, so it appears to be all good, but...
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Old 04-20-2008, 07:41 AM   #2
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I have a friend who says that it isn't all that difficult to convert a car to use propane. I believe you just run the liquid propane in place of the gas in the fuel line. may be it would even work on an fuel injected car. he said he would run off his one tank in the back of the little pickup for months at a time.
yeah, it'll be hard to see the mileage difference, but really you're looking into economy. how far you can go on a dollar. that should be fairly easy to figure.

another thing: you never have to worry about running out of gas at a camp out/grill party!
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Old 04-20-2008, 01:40 PM   #3
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Well, its sort of easy, EPA regs require only approved technicians to do the conversion, and it has to pass an emissions test (poorly done conversions can pollute badly). Plus points as I mentioned are that properly done, its a high octane clean burning fuel, relatively cheap (definitely more so than gas). Basically its carried as a liquid in the tank, then run through a regulator and into a vaporizer, then the vapor is sent to the engine. It works with fuel injection, and in fact, current conversions are required to work with OBD II systems.

I'm lucky about the location of vehicle fueling stations out here in Phoenix. There's one at 3131 NW Grand Ave, which I go by or within a quarter mile of ever M-F, and there's two more along Bell Road that I pass M-F as well. Aside from those, there's around a half dozen that are sorta on my way, for example, a regular route I take is Northern Ave across to I-17 then up to Bell Rd. One station is on 19th Ave near Dunlap, so I'd simply veer off Northern, go up 19th to the station, then take Dunlap to I-17. No wasted mileage, although a little wasted time.

Overall, this looks like the winning combination, a domestically produced fuel that is a byproduct of gas and natural gas refining that costs less than gasoline, gets similar mileage and power (one article mentioned that at worst, you'd lose 7% of your engine's power), and basically operates the same. CNG on the other hand, you can lose over 50% of your engine's power apparently. I'd known that power density was rather poor with CNG, and the tanks are heavier, but I hadn't realized it was that bad.
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Old 04-20-2008, 03:02 PM   #4
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Here is my 2 cents. When I went to Vegas one of the taxi companies were running around with all propane driven cars. You could maybe research that company and get some information on conversions throught them if you aren't sure which direction to go. Another side note is I drive forklifts and clamp trucks daily. They run on propane. We beat the hell out of the trucks and to top it off they never get an oil change. WIth over 5000 hours on most of the trucks and the engine at nearly wide open all the time; the propane fuel definetly helps out when it comes to maintanence.
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Old 04-20-2008, 07:24 PM   #5
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i have had two propane vehicles,they don't get the same fuel economy as a gas motor.if propane is half the cost of gasoline you will be ahead.if your valve seats are not hardened those will be toast in no time.the octane rating is about 115 and it has less btu than gasoline,resulting in a slower burn witch equals less power,unless the engine was built for propane. good luck
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Old 04-20-2008, 07:46 PM   #6
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I have to check the price, last time I noticed the price of propane, it was running 25 to 30% behind that of unleaded regular. As long as the loss of mileage isn't significant, and it reduces maintenance needs, I should be ahead as I drive 250+ miles a day, so even a small savings in both areas is significant.
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Old 04-21-2008, 05:39 AM   #7
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Unfortunately, propane is only cheap until everyone catches on. It's "byproduct" nature means there's a ceiling to the supply, there is meant to be a biofuel/renewable way of making it, but I'm not sure how commercially and ecologically viable it is.

I regard this as unfortunate because I've been thinking of an even more efficient way to use propane... it's a good refrigerant... so I was wondering about converting a motor to run liquid propane through it's coolant channels, then burning some of the hot gas, running the rest through a condensor/radiator then an exhaust driven compressor... could make a very efficient motor like that.. but it ain't ready for primetime unless the biofuel propane supply works out.
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Old 04-21-2008, 06:58 AM   #8
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I have heard, at least from the oil burners, that as a supplemental fuel it only works out if it is 33 percent cheaper than diesel, so I would figure in a 33% reduction in power/mileage.
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Old 04-21-2008, 09:07 AM   #9
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what about a propane/gas hybrid??
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Old 04-22-2008, 11:03 AM   #10
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I know one problem in CA with propane, there is now a road tax making it cost just as much if not more than gasoline. Of course, if you find a way to fill without them knowing, in other words from your home propane tank without triggering any red flags through your propane provider, your fuel would cost much less. As for the power potential: Propane generates 18,000 btus per lb at a stoich. air fuel ration of 15.5:1 compared to Iso-octane (the standard that all fuels are measured against) 19,100 btus per lb at a stoich. air fuel ration of 15.1:1. The most desirable difference is the MON of 104 and RON of 112 that equals an average octane rating of 108. That allows an increase in either static compression and/or a dynamic cylinder pressure increase with turbos, blowers and the like to offset the btu variance with gasoline. It is known to actually increase both performance and mileage. As a side note: Since the system never allows the fuel to enter the engine in liquid form there is no washing of cylinder walls and engine wear diminishes to a degree that surpasses even diesel engines. On the negative side, it does have a greater tendency to cause valve recession due to higher combustion temperatures and no dampening characteristics for valve-to-seat contact. As a point of interest: Unlike gasoline the richer the propane mixture, the hotter the combustion temperature, the leaner/the cooler. I would run propane if the government would stay out of it, but they don't want people to run propane. It's a much cleaner fuel, and weighs less, as well.
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