USC vehicle fleet being converted to propane - - Columbia, South Carolina

USC vehicle fleet being converted to propane

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The crew at Suddeth Automotive is hard at work on an old technology that's getting new attention.

"I can remember seeing as a little boy the steel mills burn off propane just to get rid of it," Rick Evans, a worker, said. "Now we take it and utilize the propane itself."

Evans says propane will compliment a fleet of vehicles that already runs on biodiesel, electricity, and hydgrogen. It's part of a university initiative called Genesis 2015.
Propane is cleaner burning compared to gas and about a buck and a half cheaper. Mike Suddeth's shop is doing the work. He says it's also easier on engines.

"A lot of these vehicles idle smoother and actually have a little more power on propane, that's because of higher octane," Suddeth said.

By now you might be asking yourself if your car can run on propane. Probably, but filling up might be an issue. Clark Havird of Palmetto Propane says you can't just fill your car up with propane at the hardware store because of tax issues.

"There's already several of these stations around, but not really enough for the general public to catch on to it right now," Havird said.

However, if you have a lot of vehicles, you get your own station installed. For fleets, Suddeth says it makes sense to spend about $5,000 on a conversion that will pay for itself in 2 to 3 years.

"How important would it be for a fleet to have a vehicle they've been getting 100,00 miles out of, now they're getting 150 or 175. That's where your cost savings are going to come -- on the backside," Suddeth said.

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