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What Is Renewable Propane?

A Renewable, Carbon Neutral Solution

propane energy efficiency north carolina Homes and businesses all over the U.S. will eventually be able to use renewable propane. Since it is molecularly identical to propane, there will be no need to replace or alter existing propane appliances and equipment. As usage of renewable propane increases, it will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions nationwide, helping fight the devastating effects of climate change.

In fact, renewable propane is carbon neutral at the point of combustion. Recent research has determined that if one million European homes that currently exist beyond the gas grid used renewable propane, this would eliminate up to five million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

While it is not in common use yet, renewable propane gas has positioned itself to be a major part of the clean fuel conversation in the years ahead.

Just as conventional propane is a coproduct of crude oil and natural gas extraction, most renewable propane can be considered a coproduct of biofuel creation. Many of the same feedstocks that go into creating biofuel — animal oils, vegetable oils, biomass — are used to create renewable propane.

This method of producing propane is as safe, cost-effective, and dependable as that for propane generated from natural gas. And when compared to electricity, renewable propane has a considerably smaller carbon footprint. It can also reduce our reliance on aging, poorly maintained, fragile electric utility infrastructures.

Renewable Propane on the Road

Renewable propane can also be blended with propane and utilized in existing propane-powered equipment and vehicles, as well as cars that run on propane autogas.

This will reduce air pollution and diesel particulate matter substantially. Cleaner burning renewable propane can also help engines and equipment to run more effectively, resulting in longer life with less upkeep and fewer repairs. Carbon dioxide emissions reduction is just one of renewable propane’s environmental benefits. When burned in vehicle engines, it produces far less nitrogen oxide than gasoline. Nitrogen oxide is a contributor to acid rain and respiratory issues.

Businesses may also benefit from propane autogas tax credits at both the federal and state levels.

The Road to Negative Carbon Intensity

Current research could bring us to a place where renewable propane produces net-negative carbon emissions. One of the most promising ways for reaching this goal is with dimethyl ether (DME). Researchers can now synthesize this biogas from animal waste. This prevents the release of methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and the product can be blended with propane.

Renewable Propane Production

The 200,000 tons of American renewable propane currently made is only 0.1% of total propane production. The good news is that there is tremendous potential for growth as more resources are dedicated to renewable propane production. Also, since renewable propane is often a coproduct of biofuel, they will scale up together.

Reducing Landfill Waste

Production of renewable propane diverts used cooking oil and meat fats from languishing in landfills. In 2018, in conjunction with biofuel production, renewable propane production used the following as feedstocks:

  • Over 7.5 billion pounds of soybean oil
  • Over 2 billion pounds of corn oil
  • 1.7 billion pounds of yellow grease
  • 618 million pounds of white grease

That’s a lot of waste being put to good use!

Learn how renewable propane gas can benefit North Carolina.