Go green and save green

High gas prices affect us all negatively while providing huge profits for big oil companies. The last of the Big Five oil companies recently announced their profits so the totals are in. Between the five of them, ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, Chevron and ConocoPhillips made $34 billion in profits in the first three months of 2011 – up 42 percent from a year ago. Exxon alone cleared a cool $10.7 billion profit from January through March, up 69 percent from 2010. That’s $82,175 a minute. Shell is expected to post a healthy 22.2 percent gain, translating to $5.9 billion for the company, which is right on par with competitor Chevron’s profits.

And if that doesn’t make you mad, then consider this: The United States imported 4 million barrels of oil a day – or 1.5 billion barrels total – from “dangerous or unstable” countries in 2008 at a cost of about $150 billion. As a major contributor to the global demand for oil, the United States is paying to finance and sustain unfriendly regimes. T. Boone Pickens states we spend a “billion dollars a day on foreign oil.”

We don’t have to put up with that. Do you realize the United States produces a fuel that can reduce dependence on foreign oil? This fuel is propane, which is not produced for its own sake, but is a by-product of two other processes, natural gas processing, which our country has in abundance, and petroleum. About 90 percent of U.S. propane is domestically produced, most of that in Texas.

What is propane? Propane is a hydrocarbon and is sometimes referred to as liquefied petroleum gas, LP-Gas or LPG. It naturally occurs as a gas at atmospheric pressure but can be liquefied if subjected to moderately increased pressure. It is stored and transported in its compressed liquid form, but is vaporized into a gas for use by opening a valve to release it from the pressurized storage container. Although propane is nontoxic and odorless, an identifying odor is added so it can be readily detected. It is stored in special tans that keep it under pressure (about 200 PSI), but is returned to a gaseous form before being burned in an engine.


In the United States, the propane-fueling infrastructure is the most developed of all alternative fuels, whether for power equipment, vehicles or barbeque grills. There are more than 6,000 retail dealer locations, affording access and delivery of propane to every region of the country.

Indeed, more than 190,000 on-road vehicles in the United States use propane making it the third most popular vehicle fuel in America. It’s also a popular choice for non-road vehicles, such as forklifts, agricultural and construction vehicles and, to the point of this article, outdoor power equipment, especially commercial mowers, the numbers of which have exploded in the last five years. At last count, 11 mower manufacturers were producing and offering propane-powered commercial mowing models.

Here are some of the advantages of using propane as a fuel:

  • Propane is a very clean burning fuel and is listed as an approved clean fuel by U.S. government policy makers and energy administrative bodies.
  • Because it is cleaner burning than gasoline, engines last longer, require less maintenance and fewer oil changes.
  • Propane eliminates the problem of fuel pillerage.
  • Propane is not harmful to soil if spilled on the ground. It will not cause harm to drinking water supplies.
  • Propane vapor will not cause air pollution, and propane vapor is not considered air pollution.
  • Propane vapor is not harmful if accidently inhaled by birds, animals or people.
  • Propane will cause bodily harm if liquid propane comes in contact with skin (boiling point minus 44 degrees Fahrenheit). Obviously, it must always be handled with care.

You can use an American fuel by converting to propane on most small gasoline engines. It is relatively easy to convert to propane, which runs better with less harmful emissions into the atmosphere. If lowering your fuel price, controlling your fuel by eliminating theft and spillage, lowering your maintenance on the engine, not having to winterize your engine and lessening your carbon footprint, then converting to propane is for you.

Not only that, but you will be doing your small part to lessen America’s voracious oil appetite that contributes to another growing national security concern: climate change. Burning oil is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions and therefore a major driver of climate change, which if left unchecked could have very serious security global implications. Burning oil imported from “dangerous or unstable” countries alone released 640.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is the same as keeping more than 122.5 million passenger vehicles on the road.

Metro Lawn has helped many landscapers, municipals, schools and parks to convert their commercial mowers over to propane with little or no upfront cost. Don’t be confused with others who offer conversion kits. They are not EPA or CARB-certified, will void the warranty on your engine and mower and will not operate efficiently. Let the most experienced trainers support you in your propane OEM products or in converting your equipment to propane. Metro Lawn is a one-source program that will walk you through the entire process of propane conversions to the fueling infrastructure.

This advertorial was written by Jim Coker, manager of engine fuels at Heritage Propane/Metro Lawn.