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Saturday, October 06, 2007

liquefied petroleum gas: an alternative fuel

This paper is about Liquefied Petroleum Gasoline as a good alternative fuel for vehicles. While still unpopularly used in the Philippines , Liquefied Petroleum Gasoline has beneficial effects to the country and people in terms of economy, sustainability and safety. However, LPG is still less preferred than other vehicle fuels. Nevertheless, LPG can be used as an alternative fuel for vehicles. As such, LPG use can bring economic boost to the country. With LPG's benefits, it should be used at a more comprehensive scale.

Alternative fuels for cars are a consuming issue across the globe. A cursory inspection of any city in the world will make one realize that a common problem emanates: exhaust fumes from petrol- or diesel-powered engines have produced smogs and decreased the quality of air that humans breathe. Hence, alternative fuels for vehicles have become so vital in human life. In the recent decades, leaders in many nations have put a step forward to control the amounts of noxious exhaust emissions hanging in city atmospheres. In the Philippines , the air is so dirty that vehicular exhausts can actually be seen in their dark, filthy glory. A practical alternative to these car fuels has to be discovered. It seems inevitable that with the terrible way humans have messed with Mother Earth, restrictive rules will be used more comprehensively in the near future and that drivers will need to be more conscious and conscientious of the ways they can remain plying the major thoroughfares. Worldwide acceptance of alternative fuels is the cleaner manner ahead, so here leads Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), the most versatile of the alternative fuels. Historically, LPG has been used as a motor fuel by tens of thousands of fleet users, agricultural machinery, and materials handling equipment for over eighty years. LPG powers innumerable school buses, taxis, police cruisers, forks lifts, farm tractors, among other vehicles. Although still unpopularly used in the Philippines , LPG has beneficial effects to the country and people in terms of economy, sustainability and safety.
While among the alternative fuels ready to be swapped with the more expensive and more air pollution-causing conventional gasoline, the LPG is less preferred than other vehicle fuels. For one, motorists are still accustomed to using other vehicle fuels. Klima Climate Change Center (2007) views that gasoline and diesel constitute about 99% of consumed transport fuels across the globe and relish wide support and dedicated infrastructure for their extraction, refining, distribution, and eventual consumption. All major gas stations carry mostly, sometimes only gasoline and diesel. Motorists use diesel gasoline. Motorists also use unleaded gasoline. Pedrasa (2007) asserts that the mindset of Filipinos remain concentrated to gasoline or diesel. Frontline (2007) quotes Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla that even with alternative fuels around, vehicles will still depend primarily on old-fashioned gasoline and diesel. The small figures of gas stations serving LPG as vehicle fuels show that autogas has yet to relish the popularity being enjoyed currently by diesel and gasoline (Pedrasa, 2007). The country has yet to manifest a commitment to autogas in rendering motor engines running (Pedrasa, 2007). This is despite the fact that oil prices in the world market are always steep whereas their exhausts are so harsh that they cause respiratory ailments, air pollution and unsightly surroundings. Another reason for LPG’s unpopular preference is that motorists cannot access LPG in most gasoline stations. LPG is not yet listed in most oil offerings in many gas stations. Likewise, motorists' doubts about the safety of using LPG overshadow the positive view on LPG as an alternative vehicle fuel. LPG is associated with that used in cooking, which is known to cause many domestic hazards. Salazar (2003) sees that LPG would always sow fear when used as fuel in vehicles. Ho (2007) reports that this is not unfounded, since LPG can be highly flammable. An image is conjured up wherein the bulky LPG tank that crowd the home kitchen is found inside vehicles, causing panic among passengers. Damaged tanks or tubes could leak gas and fill enclosed rooms, all the more dangerous when someone lights up a cigarette (Salazar). Obviously, the cases of exploding LPG tanks and conflagrations originated from unattended LPG are not divorced from this image. Motorists believe that only natural fuels such as bioethanol and biobutanol are the only safe alternative fuels, discounting LPG. The prefix bio- makes them seem safer than LPG which, as said, is a permanent massive fixture in the kitchen.
This exaggerated depiction notwithstanding, LPG can be used as an alternative fuel to vehicles. LPG works well on vehicles, not only in the home where it is associated with cooking. LPG should not be confined to the notion of cooking since it can be used to run a car and actually assists motorists cut ascending gas budgets significantly (Pedrasa, 2007). LPG works well in private vehicles. Cars, vans, among other private vehicles, can run using LPG. Likewise, LPG works well in public utility vehicles. Buses, jeeps and other public utility vehicles can be run using LPG. The agricultural and industrial sectors have used LPG in tractors and forklifts for years. Many school buses presently operate on LPG. These LPG vehicles are usually dedicated, meaning they are not dual fueled. As should be, the safety potentials of LPG outweigh its hazards. LPG is a clean and convenient source of fuel energy. Yalung (2006) comments that the LPG has environmental and cost benefits when used as alternative fuel for vehicles. For one, LPG reduces car emissions. For instance, Transport Zone (2007) reports that LPG-fueled vehicles are plying Metropolitan Manila owing to the alternative fuel’s excellent safety global records as well as transportation. Also, autogas is contained in custom-made tanks made of carbon steel that is twenty-fold more puncture-resistant, nontoxic and easily detectable when leaking (Pedrasa, 2007). Tests assure that LPG tanks are less likely to explode than petrol tanks owing to the presence of pressure relief valves (Transport Zone, 2007). As it is, LPG is a good choice for the reduction of noxious, poisonous gases and greenhouse pollutants (Transport Zone, 2007). Likewise, it is widely used across the globe, from Australia to The Netherlands to former Soviet Republic Armenia, as a “green” fuel for vehicle engines because it downgrades exhaust and replaces chlorofluorocarbons as an aerosol propellant and a refrigerant to slash damage to the ozone layer (Yalung, 2006). While associated with gas used in cooking, LPG is referred to as autogas when used in vehicles, eliminating the hazard mindset. Therefore, autogas divorces the idea of LPG as something that is used mainly for kitchen purposes, and gives the gas a novel idea altogether that is solely devoted to transportation. Apart from the home, in farming, and at the factory, LPG may be used on the road because it is clean burning, according to Shell Oil Company. LPG Philippines informs that the LPG known as autogas is strictly for automotive use only and is a mixture of mainly propane and butane, entirely different from other grades, with which it is not interchangeable. Autogas is a mixture of gases, the foremost being propane and it is a by-product of the oil refining process and is also found as an associated gas in natural gas fields. The terms propane and butane make autogas a little closer to the alternative fuel that it really is, owing to the fact that the biogases are also made up of these chemical compounds. After all, all fuels are made up of a complex of Hydrogen and Carbon. This is burnt off to form water which is harmless to the atmosphere, and Carbon dioxide, which, in large quantities, is not. While diesel and petrol are the main road fuels in the world in a multi-billion fuel industry, there is a growth in the use of autogas. Like most gases like petrol and diesel, LPG is a by-product of the refining of crude oil, from which other gases originated.
LPG use can bring economic boost to the country. Adopting the new technology involving LPG can help alleviate the economic crisis. The US Department of Energy (2007) summarizes that capitalizing more on alternative fuels and less on imported petroleum will improve energy security and standardize fuel prices, among other benefits. The war in the Middle East has affected oil prices by making bit fluctuate depending on the stability of the war-involved countries where the fuels are being harnessed. Hence, importing countries like the Philippines are reluctant hostages to these economic anomalies involving fossil fuels. LPG can reduce or totally eliminate importation of fossil fuels. News of the government tapping companies and agencies into looking for locations where gas may be mined run aplenty. Harnessing LPG in the country may provide employment opportunities. With the country’s high unemployment rate, the prospect of mining natural gases for fuels is a welcome reprieve since quarrying for LPG will involve labor manpower. LPG's availability can eclipse the more costly, imported vehicle fuels. LPG is mostly made from by-products of oil refining and is kept artificially cheap as a result. While oil prices are far from being standardized, LPG is significantly cheaper than diesel. In the same vein, LPG is significantly cheaper than unleaded gasoline. Autogas costs only P24 a liter as opposed to P40 or so for regular unleaded gasoline, making the former a lot more of a saver (Yalung, 2007). LPG’s price is 15-20% lower than that of diesel or unleaded. Ho (2007) reports that at current prices, autogas as opposed to other gasoline products costs about P8 less per liter. Using autogas would create an impact of 20% fuel cost savings apart from savings on oil change and tune-up (Ho, 2007). Buses running on LPG will help reduce the Philippines ' general diesel consumption as well as decrease harmful emissions and improve ecological conditions (Ho, 2003). Research explains that autogas has lower sulfur, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide content compared to gasoline so it is good to use emission-wise (Pedrasa, 2007). That being the case, the air pollution index of Manila may possibly depreciate significantly. Also, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism reports that LPG as a “green alternative” not only reduces vehicular fuel expenses by at least half but also gives less environmental threat by posing around 20% less ozone forming potential, 15% lower greenhouse emissions and 80% less toxic emissions. There may just come a time that butterflies will be seen fluttering in the air again, a condition that disappeared since heavy vehicular exhausts caused by diesel- and unleaded-fueled vehicles have upset the balance of nature. Likewise, LPG's availability can open exportation opportunities for the country. LPG can be exported to countries that are largely dependent on expensive petrol fuels. Since the Arab world practically dominates the oil market, LPG exportation can possibly help developing countries from being victimized by the Middle East ’ oil monopoly. LPG exportation will provide a significant boost to the country's Gross Domestic Product. Exporting LPG is a prospective endeavor since that can give the higher-priced oils some competition. PCIJ reports that LPG is introduced as a fuel alternative in order to cut the country's dependence on imported oil. A forum in the Philippine government's official website claims that LPG for car use is currently much cheaper than gasoline yet provides an equal mileage.
With LPG's benefits, it should be used at a more comprehensive scale. As the most versatile of the alternative fuels, LPG should get ahead of its 60 years of commercial viability and should start giving diesel and leaded gasoline a run for their money. Most if not all gas stations should render this kind of gas available throughout the Philippines . Public and private vehicles should consider using the LPG before anything else since it’s cheaper and more environment-friendly. With its impressive safety record, there is no doubt why it is the first choice among alternative fuels. With less greenhouse and particulate emissions, LPG can extend engine life in such a way that no other alternative fuels may match this performance. Since the potential of this cleaner source of fuel can been realised, it should gain an increasing support as an environmentally-friendly automotive fuel, both in reducing global warming and improving air quality, particularly in Philippine towns and cities where vehicle emissions cause specific pollution problems. There is a need to look after the environment, and for the people who cannot give up on the use of cars, the impact these cars have on the environment can only be reduced. LPG conversion is a way to use car as needed to and to keep the conscience clean regarding eco-friendliness. Whether for private or public transport, the alternative fuel that is the LPG is here to stay. With its offering of a practical, cleaner alternative to petrol or diesel, LPG can make a difference.

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“Metropolis welcomes Autogas.” Transport Zone. March 27, 2007.
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