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What Is Renewable Propane?

Date: January 15, 2024

A Renewable, Carbon Neutral Solution

renewable propane tennessee Homes and businesses all over the U.S., including Tennessee, 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 effects of climate change.

Renewable propane’s carbon intensity — or the carbon emitted for every unit of energy it produces — is lower than conventional propane because it’s produced from bio-based or renewable sources.

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.

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.

What Is Renewable Propane Gas Made From?

Many of the feedstocks used in the production of renewable propane are what most people would consider waste products. For example, 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:

  • More than 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! Here’s a closer look at some of the common feedstocks used in the production of renewable propane gas.

  • Used cooking oils, animal fats and grease can all be utilized for clean, renewable energy. These waste products from restaurants all contribute to the production of biofuel.
  • Municipal waste like paper, plastic and other products provides a valuable resource to produce renewable propane and other renewable fuels. This production chain diverts billions of pounds of waste from landfills every year. Plus, recent research done at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has resulted in a process for recycling plastic waste on a molecular level. And its end-product is propane!
  • Dead trees and woody biomass represent wildfire hazards, but disposing of large forest waste products can be challenging. Agricultural waste like leaves and stalks serve little purpose for farmers. The good news is that researchers have made fantastic strides in extracting the compounds to generate renewable fuel from these feedstocks.
  • Soybean oil and inedible corn oil are classic biofuel feedstocks. Both significantly contribute to renewable propane production and support American farmers in the process, all without sacrificing the food supply.
  • There are some lesser-known agricultural resources with potential in the renewable propane production pipeline. One promising resource is camelina sativa, which is similar to canola. Camelina sativa grows in otherwise fallow land, doesn’t need much water, matures quickly and is resistant to pests. Growing camelina requires few resources and doesn’t displace food crops — and it’s another effective feedstock.

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 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.

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

Learn how renewable propane gas can benefit Tennessee homes and businesses in the future.