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Column: Are propane powered police cars safe?
by Officer Larry Jacobs
May 17, 2013 11:11 AM | 1816 views | 0 0 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Is a propane powered police car safe? I hope so. It’s used to fuel my Sandy Springs Police car. The SSPD has received a federal grant to convert 50 of its vehicles to run on propane. With the cost about $6,000 per vehicle for the conversion kit, this saves the department and the city a lot of money.

The average cost for gasoline is above $3.50 a gallon; the average cost for liquid propane gas (LPG) is $1.50 a gallon. Since the start of the program, this conversion has saved over $50,000 in fuel cost. The vehicles still get the same 11-13 mpg, but LPG burns much cleaner than gasoline at 102 octane. Regular unleaded gasoline burns at 87 octane. The higher octane of LPG reduces emissions and pollutants. It increases the longevity of the vehicle’s engine and reduces maintenance costs. There is a location in Sandy Springs where the SSPD has a propane fueling station. The converted vehicles still have a gas tank and still carry at least a ¼ of a tank of gas, which is used to start the cars. A few minutes after warm-up, they automatically switch over to propane.

Some more interesting facts about propane include:

It was first created in 1910. It was first used in vehicles by Chicago Transit in 1958. Propane is the primary fuel source for 80% of transit vehicles. Propane provides 4% of our nation’s current energy needs. 90% of propane is produced domestically. Propane is an approved clean fuel alternative as defined by the 1990 Federal Clean Air Act.

Ok, back to the safety question. Is it safe? That’s what they tell us. Propane is used under low pressure, not high pressure, like compressed natural gas (CNG). There is a risk with propane, just as there is a risk with gasoline. The risk is a little different, but so are the safe guards.

Do I notice a difference in performance? Nope. I don’t notice a difference in performance and unless I am looking at the propane gauge, I can’t tell which fuel I am using.

Freebee – Always leave enough room between you and the vehicle in front of you when in traffic or at a traffic light. Reasons are: If the vehicle in front of you is broken down, you can get around it. If you notice something suspicious in the area (you getting car jacked), you can get out of the area quickly.

Officer Larry Jacobs is the Crime Prevention Officer for the Sandy Springs Police Department. He can be reached at ljacobs@sandyspringsga.gov.

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