Propane and its impact in a sustainable future
There is an energy source that is making its way to worldwide markets and that’s renewable propane. It’s basically the same as traditional propane in terms of compound structure and physical properties with one major difference; it’s NOT made from fossil fuels. Thereby, renewable propane solves a variety of environmental problems and offers numerous advantages.
How is renewable propane made?
Renewable propane is made from the methane gas that is produced by the decomposition of a variety of waste materials and sustainably sourced materials like algae. It is produced from agricultural waste products, cooking oils and meat fats rather than fossil fuels, like natural gas. Renewable propane is often created as a co-product of biodiesel production.
During this process, feedstocks go through many intricate systems before they are combined with hydrogen. It is in this stage of hydrogenolysis that separates and purifies the energy content. For every tonne of biodiesel produced, there is 50 kg of renewable propane that is generated.
Environmental advantages of renewable propane
Carbon Reduction: The conversion of feedstocks biodiesel and renewable propane is an ultra-low carbon intensity process that can be scaled up efficiently. For example, vehicle engines have low NOx and a carbon intensity (amount of carbon emitted per unit of energy consumed) of 19%. That is five times better than diesel and gasoline, and 150% better than electricity.
Landfill Diversion: Converting animal fats and cooking oils into renewable propane also provides a great way to reduce demand for landfills. Recycling cooking oil and meat fats into biodiesel and renewable propane helps cut the amount of waste we deposit into landfills. The biodiesel industry reports show that there were more than 7.5 billion pounds of soybean oil and more than 2 billion pounds of corn oil in biodiesel production in one year. It also used 1.7 billion pounds of yellow grease and 618 pounds of white grease as feedstock.
Where is renewable energy propane produced?
Renewable propane production plants are under development in many places around the world. Biofuel pioneers Neste Corporation are producing renewable propane at their facility in the Netherlands as a co-product whilst creating renewable diesel. Neste is half way through their plan of delivering 160,000 tonnes of renewable energy that will be applied to the transportation industry
North America is following suit with several renewable propane refineries in operation. This includes REG Geismar of Geismar, Louisiana and AltAir Fuels of Los Angeles, California. REG Geismar is a 75-million-gallon capacity renewable diesel biorefinery that converts waste fats and oils into renewable diesel, renewable propane and renewable naphtha. AltAir Fuels is a biorefinery that produces renewable propane while manufacturing 40 million gallons of commercial-grade renewable and sustainable jet fuel per year.
Renewable propane future road map
Production of renewable propane is currently around 200,000 tonnes per year globally. That works out to nearly 0.1% of worldwide liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) production. Capacity of production across six of the largest refiners is approximately 10.5 million gallons per year in the U.S.
Forty million homes are located beyond the gas pipeline grid in Europe. These homes depend on antiquated, ‘dirty’ heating oil-based central heating systems. Reports show that if 1 million of these homes change to renewable propane, the result could eradicate nearly 5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. This would equate to reducing emissions from approximately 2.5 million automobiles.
Increasing improvements in technology that produce renewable propane will see larger amounts of this green energy source to become widely available all over the world. A carbon neutral footprint is simple and achievable with renewable propane, the cleaner energy source.