What is Propane Gas? What Does Propane Do - Who Uses Propane and for What Purposes
Propane is typically used for space heating, water heating, cooking, and as fuel for internal combustion engine applications. These include cars, forklifts, buses, irrigation pumps, and fleet vehicles. It is called Autogas when used as vehicular fuel. New applications are constantly emerging as technology develops.
Propane, typically used as a fuel, is a co-product of crude oil refining and natural gas processing. Propane is categorised as one of the liquefied petroleum gases – LPG.
Propane gas, also called LPG, is available almost everywhere. What does propane do is primarily act as a fuel source. Propane does heat our homes & give us hot showers, cooking our food, power our BBQs and fuel our cars.
Propane is also used by business and agricultural for all sorts of applications.
Propane gas is one of the gases that fits the definition of LPG - Liquefied Petroleum Gas. Propane is a flammable hydrocarbon gas that is liquefied through pressurisation and commonly used for fuel in heating, cooking, hot water and vehicles. Propane can also be used for refrigerants, aerosol propellants and petrochemical feedstock.
Propane gas can be compressed into liquid at relatively low pressures. Propane is generally stored, as a liquid, in steel vessels ranging from small BBQ gas bottles to larger gas cylinders and LPG storage tanks.
Propane comes from natural gas processing and petroleum refining.
There are a number of other gases that fall under the “LPG” label, including butane (n-butane) and isobutane (i-butane), as well as mixtures of these gases and are also referred to as natural gas liquids – NGL.
Propane Physical Properties
|Energy Content: MJ/m3||95.8|
|Energy Content: MJ/kg||49.58|
|Energy Content: MJ/L||25.3|
|Boiling Temp: Cº||-42|
|Pressure @ 21ºC: kPa||858.7|
|Flame Temp: Cº||1967|
|Gas Volume: m3/kg||0.540|
|Relative Density: H2O||0.51|
|Relative Density: air||1.53|
|kg per L||0.51|
|L per kg||1.96|
|Specific Gravity @ 25ºC||1.55|
|Density @ 15ºC: kg/m3||1.899|
Where Does Propane Come From?
Propane is an amazing transportable gas that comes in a bottle, but what exactly is propane, where does it come from and how does it work? Propane comes from natural gas wells and oil wells.
Propane is a fossil fuel that does not occur in isolation. Propane is found naturally in combination with other hydrocarbons.
Propane then comes from natural gas processing and crude oil refinery processes. It is isolated, liquefied through pressurisation and stored in pressure vessels for easy storage, shipping and distribution.
How is Propane Made?
Propane is made during natural gas processing and oil refining. It is separated from the unprocessed natural gas using refrigeration.
Propane is extracted from heated crude oil using a distillation tower.
It is then pressurisation and stored as a liquid in cylinders and tanks.
How is Propane Made from Natural Gas?
Propane isn't so much made from natural gas as it is separated from natural gas.
It is important to understand that "raw natural gas", as it leaves the gas well, contains other gases (including propane) and impurities that need to be processed out to obtain the nearly pure methane gas that we refer to as "refined natural gas" or just "natural gas".
Propane is separated from the raw natural gas stream by 'stripper plants' that literally strip the propane from the raw natural gas stream.
What is Propane Used For - Common Uses of Propane
Propane uses in everyday life include home heating, cooking, hot water heaters, gas fireplaces and clothes drying. Home everyday outdoor life uses include patio heaters, pool heaters, backup generators, and as BBQ fuel. For some people, it also includes vehicle fuel, with LPG cars and vehicles. Propane gas heating systems provide instant warmth and are available in flued gas heaters and portable gas heaters.
Propane is also used for hundreds, if not thousands, of uses. In addition, propane is used for propellant, refrigerant, vehicle fuel and petrochemical feedstock applications.
The propane uses most people can name are around the home, in their cars or for their business.
Propane does get used in leisure time activities including caravans, boats, recreational vehicles, hot air balloons and camping.
Propane is also used for fuel for many commercial and agricultural heat applications, including commercial boilers.
Business and industry use propane for a multitude of processes including steam boilers, kilns, ovens and forklifts.
Crop and produce drying, heating greenhouses, hot water for dairies, irrigation pumps and heating animal enclosures are just some of the agricultural applications for propane.
Transport is also a big user of propane, either alone or mixed with butane, to power various vehicle types.
There are also many, many more propane applications, including power generation and the hospitality industry.
7 Important Propane Facts
1. Propane is LPG but not all LPG is propane. LPG is the acronym for Liquefied Petroleum Gas.
2. Propane is a flammable hydrocarbon gas that is liquefied through pressurisation and commonly used as fuel.
3. Propane comes from natural gas processing and petroleum refining.
4. Propane is LPG but not all LPG is propane. Propane, along with a number of gases, falls under the “LPG” label. The other gases include butane (n-butane) and isobutane (i-butane), as well as mixtures of the three LPG gases.
5. Propane gas can be compressed into liquid at relatively low pressure.
6. Propane is frequently used for fuel in heating, cooking, hot water and vehicles.
7. Propane is generally stored, as a liquid, in steel vessels ranging from small BBQ gas bottles to larger gas cylinders and storage tanks. (45kg gas bottles shown)
Propane Goes by Many Names
In Australia, propane has many names.
It is also called LPG, LPG Gas, LP Gas, BBQ Gas or Autogas.
In the USA it is just called Propane.
In the UK, it is referred to as either propane or LPG.
How Does Propane Work?
Propane is stored under pressure, as a liquid, in a gas bottle.
It turns back into gas vapour when you release some of the pressure in the gas bottle by turning on your appliance.
Almost all of the uses for propane involve the use of the gas vapour, not the liquefied gas.
What is Propane Made of? Propane Composition - Propane Structure
Propane structure is as a hydrocarbon gas with 3 carbon and 8 hydrogen atoms in a propane molecule. The chemical formula for propane is C3H8. (Propane molecule structure model shown)
Propane is not made or manufactured, it is found naturally in combination with other hydrocarbons.
Propane is produced or "made" during natural gas processing and petroleum refining.
Both processes begin by drilling oil wells.
Propane does not occur naturally in isolation.
Propane processing involves the separation and collection of the gas from its petroleum base and other Natural Gas Liquids (NGLs).
Following its refinement, LPG is stored and distributed as a liquid under pressure until used, at which point it is utilised as either a liquid or a gas (vapour).
Propane Gas Heating Systems for Homes
Propane gas heating systems for home are an energy efficient way to keep warm and cozy. Gas heating systems works well for large home spaces so there’s no better way to provide cozy warmth to every corner of your home than with gas heating. Propane heating systems are synonymous with fast home heating and real warmth.
Propane gas heating system sub-types for sale include radiant, convectors, radiant-convectors, flued radiant, freestanding fireplaces, fireplace inserts, inbuilt fireplace gas heaters and power flued gas heaters for the home.
With a wide range of propane gas heating appliances systems to choose from, there is a model that is just right for your home.
What is a Propane Tank?
Propane tanks are typically steel vessels for storing the common LPG gases, propane or butane. Homes and small businesses typically use either 45kg gas bottles, the larger 90kg or 210kg LPG gas bottle sizes. BBQ propane tanks come in 9kg and 4kg gas bottle sizes. High volume users have the larger propane tank sizes.
Propane tanks may also be called “Propane Gas Bottles”, "LPG Bottle", "LPG Gas Cylinders" or just "Gas Bottle".
Propane gas tanks contain liquid and gas, as propane liquefies under relatively low pressure.
A propane tank is considered low pressure versus high pressure cylinders, as used with CNG.
Propane tank sizes and volumes vary, based on application and demand. A small propane gas bottle is portable, as used in camping.
Can You Bury a Propane Tank?
Yes, you can bury a propane tank as long as it was made for burying. A buried propane tank needs anti-corrosive coatings and cathode protection. Underground propane tanks are tanker filled by hose.
The burying of a propane tank should be handled by an experienced professional company and minimum and maximum distances from your home or business apply. The buried propane tank must also be safely away from any ignition source.
Propane Tank Installation Distance Requirements - Residential Propane Tank Regulations
Residential propane tank regulations and propane tank distance requirements are important for a safe installation. The installation distance requirements can vary based on the size of the propane tank. The typical minimum distance is 10 feet or 3 meters, including ignition sources and building openings in all directions.
Propane Gas Pressure Regulators - What is a Propane Regulator?
A propane regulator is used to control the pressure of the propane gas delivered to the appliance, from the propane gas bottles. Propane gas pressure regulators automatically modulate high pressure gas down to a maximum pre-determined limit.
The pressure within a gas bottle can be 800-900kPa which is regulated down to the 2.75kPa typically required.
Propane gas pressure regulators for LPG bottles are usually factory pre-set to the standard 2.75kPa operating pressure for the appliances.
A propane regulator can also be referred to as a cooking gas regulator when used with cooking appliances.
Is Propane Explosive? How & Can a Propane Gas Cylinder Explode? Propane-LPG Tank Explosion
Propane cylinder or propane-LPG tank explosions do not happen with any frequency. A propane-LPG tank (gas cylinder) explosion or blast is actually quite rare. Gas cylinders can be explosive but not easily or often. Even trying to create a propane cylinder explosion intentionally is very challenging.
Propane is explosive under the right circumstances. The propane can be explosive if it is within the limits of flammability, between 2.15% and 9.6% of the total propane/air mixture. For the propane to be explosive, it must also collect in a confined space in order for an explosion to occur.
What are the Properties of Propane?
Propane Boiling Point
Water boils at 100°C, becoming a gas (steam).
In contrast, propane boils at -42°C becoming gas vapour.
Propane stays liquid because it is under pressure in a gas cylinder.
As a liquid, it looks a lot like water.
It is colourless and odourless in its natural state.
Odourant is Added for Safety
Avoid Direct Contact - Cold Burns
Specific Gravity of Propane - Density
Propane Gaseous Expansion
Energy Content of Propane
Propane Flame Temperature
Limits of Flammability
Propane Flash Point
Propane Vapour (Gas) Use vs. Liquid Use
Comments, questions or feedback?
The information in this article is derived from various sources and is believed to be correct at the time of publication. However, the information may not be error free and may not be applicable in all circumstances.