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Does Your Sustainability Plan Include Propane? Here Are 3 Reasons It Should.

Propane

Does Your Sustainability Plan Include Propane? Here Are 3 Reasons It Should.

Clean Air Month, celebrated in May, brings heightened awareness to an important issue for ports and port communities.

Ports traffic a high number of ships, vessels, barges, and boats on a daily basis and, because many are powered by dirty, high-carbon bunker fuel, air quality issues are a particular concern in and around port communities. As the momentum to reduce emissions and improve air quality continues to grow across the international port industry, many port authorities are seeking cleaner energy alternatives to use on-site.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), switching to cleaner fuel is one of the most effective strategies for emissions reduction. That means clean, low-emissions energy sources—like propane—can offer considerable environmental and economic advantages for various port applications.

1. Propane-powered equipment reduces emissions

Diesel engines are the current workhorse of the American economy, and although they can be reliable and efficient, older diesel engines can emit significant amounts of air pollution, including particulate matter, NOx, and carbon dioxide, according to the EPA. And while many port authorities think the solution to lower emissions is to electrify their equipment, they’re likely unaware that propane has a cleaner and more transparent emissions profile when lifecycle emissions are taken into consideration. This includes site-to-source emissions produced in the creation and transmission of electric forklift batteries.

Sometimes data can speak louder than words and the Propane Education & Research Council has valuable data to support the claim that this is the cleanest energy source for port operations. Most notably, using propane produces 43 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than using an equivalent amount of electricity generated from the U.S. grid, according to data from PERC. And thanks to propane’s energy versatility, crews can reduce emissions across a port with propane-powered forklifts, port and terminal tractors, light- and medium-duty vehicles, shuttles, power generation, and even small marine vessels.

For smaller material handling needs on-site, propane forklifts reduce emissions compared with their diesel and electric counterparts. Compared with electric, propane can reduce SOx emissions by 76 percent, and compared with diesel forklift engines, propane forklift engines can produce up to 97 percent fewer hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions—without any drop-off in payload or power.

Propane can bring emissions reductions to a port’s vehicle fleet, too. Terminal tractors powered by propane autogas produce 12 percent fewer lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline-fueled terminal tractors, according to data from the Argonne National Laboratory. And propane autogas vehicles reduce NOx emissions by up to 36 percent compared to diesel vehicles, greenhouse gas emissions by up to 22 percent compared to gasoline vehicles, and up to 45 percent less particulate matter than electric vehicles throughout the full fuel cycle.

2. Propane is environmentally friendly

When ships come in and out of ports day in and day out, not only do they release harmful emissions into the atmosphere, but they can also have a negative impact on water resources, ecosystems, and marine life. Powering land- and sea-side port equipment with propane can introduce a more environmentally-friendly solution. It is an approved clean alternative fuel under the Clean Air Act. Additionally, the energy source is non-toxic and, if leaked, it vaporizes and dissipates into the air, eliminating contamination to air, land, and water resources. Spilled gasoline or diesel, on the other hand, can quickly contaminate these resources.

3. Propane is only getting cleaner

The energy source itself is seeing innovation and in the near future, more propane will be made from renewable sources. Renewable propane is a byproduct of the renewable diesel and jet fuel production process, which converts plant and vegetable oils, waste greases, and animal fat into energy. Because it’s produced from renewable, raw materials, renewable propane is even cleaner than conventional propane—and far cleaner than other energy sources. And considering its chemical structure and physical properties are the same as traditional propane, renewable propane can be used for all the same applications.

To learn more about the environmental benefits and versatility of propane for port operations, visit Propane.com/Ports.

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Matt McDonald is the director of off-road business development for the Propane Education & Research Council. He can be reached at matt.mcdonald@propane.com.

propane

Port-Side Energy Debate: Propane vs. Electric

Ports and terminals across the country are looking for opportunities to streamline their operation, reduce their environmental impact, and increase efficiency, which leads to a common question: What alternative energy keeps ports productive while cutting emissions?

Both propane and electric solutions offer certain operational benefits. For example, electric equipment produces zero emissions during operation and offers reliable performance when handling lighter loads. Propane equipment, on the other hand, is popular for its nonstop power, resiliency, and versatility to handle loads of all sizes.

It’s important to consider which energy source can help you get the most out of your workday and your equipment. Propane-powered equipment can help ports maximize efficiency, while still allowing port crews to be proud stewards of the environment. And because propane is a primary energy source and electricity is a secondary energy source, it takes more energy to produce electricity, impacting its cleanliness, efficiency, and cost.

A transparent look at site-to-source emissions

As ports and terminals seeking reduced emissions and better air quality flee from traditional fuels, like gasoline and diesel, many have a tendency to adopt an electrify-everything mindset — but a low-emissions future doesn’t need to be an electric-only one.

Propane presents another alternative to traditional diesel-powered equipment — and with a more transparent emissions profile than electricity. Many material handling professionals I speak to are surprised to learn that propane is actually cleaner than electric when you take site-to-source emissions into account.

While it’s true electric-powered equipment and vehicles produce zero emissions during operation, it’s full emissions profile and impact is often overlooked, including emissions produced in the creation and transmission of electric batteries. Additionally, you have to consider the emissions produced at coal-fired plants where electricity is generated, as well as the emissions during transportation to the port. And because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers electric batteries a hazardous material, you can’t simply dispose of them without severely impacting the environment. Instead, they have specific handling and disposal regulations attached.

Propane, on the other hand, is an approved clean alternative fuel under the Clean Air Act of 1990 and, according to data from the Propane Education & Research Council, using propane produces 43 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than using an equivalent amount of electricity generated from the U.S. grid

Additionally, renewable propane is an emerging energy source that will be able to offer clean, low-emissions operations. Renewable propane is a byproduct of the renewable diesel and jet fuel production process, which converts plant and vegetable oils, waste greases, and animal fat into energy. Because it’s produced from renewable, raw materials, renewable propane is even cleaner than conventional propane — and far cleaner than other energy sources. And considering its chemical structure and physical properties are the same as traditional propane, renewable propane can be used for all the same applications.

Unmatched performance for maximum productivity

We all know that crews working port-side don’t have time to waste during the workday. According to IHS Markit’s Global Trade Atlas (GTA) Forecasting, North American seaports handled 2.34 billion metric tons of goods, valued at $2.53 trillion. In order to keep pace with the demanding workload and efficiently perform heavy-duty tasks, crews need powerful, versatile equipment.

Battery-powered forklifts and electric vehicles can be a compelling solution when handling lighter tasks, but performance in a port setting is really where propane sets itself apart. Propane offers the versatility to handle virtually every workload size and most notably, dominates the middle and top weight classes of forklifts with 90 percent of Class 4 and 5 forklifts being powered by propane. This means you can look to propane for a one-fuel solution, plus you won’t have to schedule downtime for recharging, like with electric.

Reliability when you need it most

Port cities are historic, which often means they’re relying on much older energy grids. But because of their relentless workload, it’s important for port operations to be as independent and autonomous with their energy source as possible. Fortunately, propane is a dependable, resilient energy source that can be stored on-site so it’s always there when you need it.

To learn more about the benefits of port-side propane equipment, visit Propane.com/Ports.

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Matt McDonald is the director of off-road business development for the Propane Education & Research Council. He can be reached at matt.mcdonald@propane.com.

port

5 Port Applications You May Be Surprised Can Run on Propane

In order to keep pace with international shipping activity in ports across the globe, crews need efficient, reliable material handling equipment. While there are several energy sources available to power port equipment, many are finding that propane can be a go-to fuel for a wide variety of port applications.

Propane has been a trusted engine fuel in the transportation sector for both on- and off-road vehicles for several decades, backed by the most trusted engine and fuel system manufacturers — including Power Solutions International, Agility, Origin, and Cummins, to name a few. Manufacturers are producing propane solutions in a variety of horsepower and applications, granting the versatility to tackle both land- and sea-side tasks.

Beyond its versatility to provide a port-wide energy solution, propane offers key advantages over other energy sources, like diesel and electric, in terms of emissions, air quality, and cost savings.

Here are five popular port applications that can run on propane:

1. Forklifts

When it comes to forklifts, people may first think of electric for low-emissions indoor operation or diesel for outdoor heavy lifting — but propane can do it all. In fact, propane is an ideal fuel for material handling. Propane-powered forklifts keep crews more productive because they don’t lose power throughout the workday and a fast, easy cylinder change gets them back in business quickly. Employees don’t have to worry about downtime for recharging, like with electric equipment.

Plus, unlike diesel, propane equipment can be safely operated indoors and outdoors, because of its clean, low-emissions profile. Propane forklifts beat electric equipment, too, when you take upstream, site-to-source emissions into account. Site-to-source emissions include those produced at power plants where electricity is generated — many of which are still coal-fired — as well as the emissions during transportation to the facility.

2. Port and Terminal Tractors

TICO Manufacturing recently launched a new propane terminal tractor powered by PSI’s emissions-certified 8.8-liter engine. TICO Pro-Spotter terminal tractors are widely used in distribution centers, rail terminals, and ports to move semi-trailers and shipping containers.

Propane autogas engines provide uncompromised power, performance, fuel efficiency, and flexibility to any user. Plus, according to data from the Argonne National Laboratory, propane autogas terminal tractors produce 12 percent fewer lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline-powered terminal tractors.

3. Light-Duty Vehicles

Propane autogas can power a variety of light-duty vehicles including shuttle vans, trucks, and security vehicles. Light-duty fleet vehicles are available from major manufacturers — as both OEM-dedicated vehicles and EPA/CARB-certified aftermarket conversions.

Businesses of all sizes are looking to propane autogas for its cost savings and reduced emissions and ports shouldn’t be an exception. Propane autogas provides the lowest total cost-of-ownership of any fuel, in part because of its reliable performance and low costs for fuel, infrastructure, and maintenance. Plus, they are typically less expensive to purchase than electric and natural gas vehicles and they can save up to 50 percent on fuel costs compared to gasoline and diesel.

Propane autogas vehicles reduce NOx emissions by up to 36 percent compared to diesel vehicles, greenhouse gas emissions by up to 22 percent compared to gasoline vehicles, and up to 45 percent less particulate matter than electric vehicles throughout the full fuel cycle. And beyond its lowest total-cost-of ownership and reduced emissions, propane autogas vehicles also help crews eliminate downtime linked to maintenance and diesel repairs.

4. Medium-Duty Vehicles

Propane autogas delivery trucks are gaining popularity in other industries in which larger loads are moving from point A to point B and reliability is key. Take the food and beverage industry, for instance. Well respected companies like Nestle Waters and Schwan’s Home Service rely on Roush CleanTech medium-duty propane autogas vehicles for product deliveries. New technology is even allowing for larger refrigeration trucks to be powered by propane autogas, too. For example, Roush CleanTech recently displayed its 2019 F-750 refrigerated van at the 2020 NTEA Work Truck Show.

5. Shore Power

Beyond powering on- and off-road vehicles, propane can provide stationary and mobile power generation for port facilities, too. Shore power, which is sometimes referred to as cold-ironing or alternative marine power, is an effective way of reducing air emissions and improving local air quality. One way to provide ports with shore power is with commercial propane generators. By incorporating propane as a power solution, ports alleviate the need, and reliance, on grid-based shore power options.

As propane technology continues to evolve, it can provide port operations with a number of key advantages compared to other energy sources including increased energy efficiency, energy security and resiliency, cost savings, and the versatility to tackle a wide variety of applications.

Plus, crews don’t want to be bothered with multiple fuel types and energy sources to complete different types of jobs. Fortunately, propane can handle various load sizes, operate indoors or outside, and even operate on- or off-road and land- or sea-side. Visit Propane.com to learn more about the power and versatility of propane.

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Jeremy Wishart is director of off-road business development for the Propane Education & Research Council. He can be reached at jeremy.wishart@propane.com.