I’ve never claimed to be an expert when dealing with cars, or anything mechanical, for that matter. However, I’d like to think I have a basic understanding of the general overview of a vehicle–i.e. how to check my tire pressure, how to check my oil level, and that vehicles run on gasoline or diesel fuel. Well, come to find out, I couldn’t be more wrong about that third point—not all vehicles run on gasoline or diesel fuel. As a matter of fact, a vehicle in my very parking lot at the office isn’t powered by either source, but rather propane, yes, PROPANE…the same thing that heats homes, fuels gas grills and even keeps swimming pools warm.
While parking my vehicle at work, day after day I was curious to know whose vehicle I saw with a small propane tank in the bed of its truck. Well, a few days went by and I finally figured out that Charlie Hallquist was the driver of this “propane pick-up.” Of course this new technology intrigued me and I just had to sit down with Charlie to learn more.
|The bed of Charlie’s truck houses a 50 gallon propane tank.|
When I met with Charlie I didn’t even know where to begin—I had so many questions to ask him, as this whole idea was completely new to me! But, as it turns out, propane fueled vehicles aren’t a new thing at all. In fact, some 35 years ago Charlie worked for a company that had propane fueled school buses.
Fast forward to today and now Charlie is driving a pick-up truck fueled by propane. In June of this year he made the trip to Indiana to have his truck converted to handle propane as the primary fuel source of his vehicle. Since that time Charlie has been reaping the benefits of his “propane pick-up.”
|There’s not much difference under the hood of Charlie’s truck since the conversion.|
Perhaps the biggest benefit Charlie is seeing is his reduction in fuel costs. With current prices on gasoline verses propane, propane is approximately $1.60/gallon less expensive than gasoline. While there is a slight reduction in efficiency while using propane, Charlie will still see an ROI on his investment in less than three years, based on the miles he drives each year and the cost of the conversion system.
In addition to the much less expensive fuel costs there are many other benefits that Charlie will receive. A few of which include:
- Less carbon emissions
- Oil changes will last twice as long, as propane doesn’t contaminate oil like gasoline does
- Government program rebate incentives
Furthermore, Charlie taught me that 78-80% of propane is a by-product of natural gas, which means it is becoming more domestic, thus not relying on foreign oils. Additionally, the conversion technology in Charlie’s truck is liquid injected and runs on liquid propane, rather than vapor.
|One small button on the dash is the only changes to the inside of Charlie’s truck.|
Of course, in my discussion with Charlie I was curious to know if this propane conversion could be done on any vehicle. Boy was I excited to know that this can be done on any vehicle, no matter the age, make or model of the vehicle—even lawn mowers can have this technology. Diesel vehicles can also be converted to propane, however, their process is slightly different due to the diesel injection. And yes, that’s right, even my little Chevy Malibu can be converted to run on propane. Charlie also informed me that the current conversion system in his truck can be transferred from vehicle to vehicle, when it’s time for a new truck.
Now, you may be wondering where Charlie fills up his truck with propane. Well, that’s easy, Landmark, of course! These new vehicles that are propane fueled can be filled straight from a propane truck, or any place that fills propane bottles, such as RV’s.
|Charlie stands by his “propane pick-up.”|
By the end of my conversation with Charlie I was sold on propane fueled vehicles, and I can’t wait to see where this new technology will go. With the significant cost savings, in addition to other benefits this sure seems like a win-win to me.
|Kristi Olson is Landmark Services Cooperative’s Communication and Events Coordinator. She has a love for agriculture, which started when she was young, growing up on her family’s 2,000 acre grain and show pig farm and carried through to her education at UW-Platteville studying AgriBusiness and Animal Science, and now in her career at Landmark. Kristi has a strong passion for telling the “agriculture story” and promoting agriculture education. Kristi can be contacted at 608.819.3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org|