The national park has been using two Ford F-250 pickup trucks running on propane in the sub-freezing climate of Alaska for more than nine months with the help of a program coordinated by the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority.
The ultimate test of the propane auto gas performance has been measured in the most remote area of the Denali National Park where the Ford F-250 was measured for environmental soundness, performance and cost reduction and comparing it against various alternative fuel options for its fleet over a six-week span.
“I’m using the Roush CleanTech pickup for my work in daily routine road maintenance, going out to check with the crews, looking at road conditions, and in daily supervision out in the park,” said Tim Taylor, east district road manager for Denali National Park and Preserve. “I’ve seen absolutely no difference whatsoever between it and the other vehicles in the fleet, other than the starting and fueling procedures. It has the same pep, same power, and it pulls fine.”
Many fleets use ultralow sulfur diesel that is trucked in by ice road trucks, a very expensive and dangerous operation due to the risk of fuel spillage in the remote and rugged location. The introduction of propane autogas presents many benefits to fleet operations in Alaska since it is both nontoxic and a readily available resource in Alaska’s North Slope.
“One of the reasons we’ve looked at moving toward propane autogas has been to lower the amount of conventional liquid fuels that move across our state and spill onto rural roads and inside national parks,” said John Quinley, assistant regional director for the National Park Services in Alaska.
Propane is a readily available domestic resource, with 90 percent of propane supplies produced domestically in the United States. Propane autogas burns cleaner in engines than gasoline and diesel, resulting in reduced maintenance costs and the potential for a longer engine life. Historically, propane autogas costs about 30 percent less per gallon than gasoline.
“National parks should be leaders in sound environmental practices because they are stewards of some of the most amazing landscapes in the country. By weighing alternative fuel options like propane autogas, we’re taking steps toward reducing harmful environmental impacts,” said Quinley. “Propane has so much availability in Alaska, so utilizing these propane autogas vehicles is a great match for Alaska National Park Service.”
This pilot program at Denali National Park hopes to generate interest about the possibilities of propane autogas fleet options throughout Alaska and across the United States.