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 Types of alternative fuels

Learn more about the different types of alternative fuels available in our region. 

PROPANE

Propane fuel, also known as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), is a fossil fuel alternative to gasoline. LPG is often used in light- and medium-duty trucks, buses, vans, taxis and government fleets. Propane is supported by many industry leaders, such as Roush Clean Tech (a division of Roush-Fenway Racing) and Uhaul.

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NATURAL GAS

Natural gas is a fossil fuel, consisting mostly of methane. Two types of natural gas can be used in vehicles: compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG). CNG may be used in light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, while LNG is ideal for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that travel long distances, such as semi-trailers. LNG is not currently available in the Tucson region.

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ETHANOL

Ethanol is an alcohol-based fuel, produced domestically from plant material, including corn and sugar cane. A wide variety of other materials, such as sorghum, algae and stover, are being researched and trials are underway. Ethanol is blended with gasoline to make three main formulations – E10, E15 and E85. The gasoline is added to denature the fuel, rendering it no longer consumable. E10 contains up to 10 percent ethanol blended with gasoline and accounts for most of the ethanol sold in the United States. E15 contains up to 15 percent ethanol blended with gasoline and is only suitable for use in 2001 or newer vehicles and flex fuel vehicles. E85 contains from 51% to 85% ethanol blended with gasoline and may only be used in flex-fuel vehicles. Flex-fuel vehicles are capable of running on E85, gasoline or any combination thereof.

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BIODIESEL

Biodiesel is a renewable fuel that may be produced from vegetable oils, animal fats or recycled restaurant grease. Biodiesel is commonly blended with petroleum diesel, producing blends including B2 (2% biodiesel), B5 and B20. In its pure form, biodiesel fuel is referred to as B100. Blends up to B5 are the most commonly approved by vehicle manufacturers for use in diesel engines, while some manufacturers recommend blends up to B20.

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ELECTRICITY

Electricity is a domestically produced energy source which can be used to power both plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles (EVs). In both types of vehicles, electricity from external power sources is stored on-board in rechargeable batteries. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles use electricity to power electric-drive systems, which improve fuel economy. EVs run on entirely electric motors, without the use of petroleum-based fuels.

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HYDROGEN

Hydrogen is currently being explored as an environmentally friendly fossil fuel alternative. Hydrogen is not currently available in Tucson or most other areas of the United States, but hydrogen fuel cell technology continues to evolve.

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