Can Propane-LPG Tanks (Gas Cylinders) Explode - Propane-LPG Gas Tank Explosion - LPG Explosion
A gas cylinder can explode if it heats up and the pressure builds at a rate that overcomes the pressure relief valve. The result could be a BLEVE - Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapour Explosion – a gas cylinder explosion, which is a rare event.
However, that is a very unlikely and uncommon scenario. Propane-LPG gas tank explosions (gas cylinder explosions) do not happen with any frequency. An Propane-LPG gas tank explosion is actually quite rare. Propane tanks-LPG gas cylinders can explode but not easily or often. Even trying to cause a Propane-LPG gas tank explosion intentionally is very challenging.
Now, you may be thinking that I am only saying this because I work for an LPG company.
How can what I say be true when you see reports of “Propane-LPG tank explosion” in the news with some frequency?
The issue lies with the erroneous reporting of the LPG explosion facts…
What is the Percentage of Propane and Butane in LPG Gas Mixture - Which Gas is Present in LPG
LPG – Liquefied Petroleum Gas – (Autogas) is primarily comprised of propane, butane, and isobutane in a range of mixtures. It is produced as a co-product of crude oil refining and natural gas processing. The constituents of LPG are gaseous at 20°C and 1 atmosphere pressure (NTP).
LPG - Liquefied petroleum gas or liquid petroleum gas, also denoted as just propane or butane, are both flammable hydrocarbon gases used as fuel for LPG heating gases, cooking and vehicular fuel.
LPG is both propane and butane. As butane does not vaporise (turn from liquid to gas) well at colder temperature, LPG suppliers typically add propane to the percentage of propane and butane in LPG. Propane has a lower boiling point, at -42° vs -0.4°C for butane. So, propane will continue to vaporise in colder climates.
Compared in gaseous volume, butane does have a higher energy content at 111.4MJ/m³ vs propane at 93.2MJ/m³. Natural gas is only 38.7MJ/m³.
Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG or LP gas) is also referred to by its constituent names - propane or butane. LPG are hydrocarbon fuel gases used for heating, cooking, hot water and vehicles.
Most countries have either 100% propane (Australia & USA), an LPG gas mixture of 60:40 propane:butane (NZ & Belgium) or percentage of propane and butane in LPG around 35:65 propane:butane LPG gas mixture (India, Spain & Hungary).
LPG Gas Manufacturing Process: Where Do We Get LPG Gas From - How is LPG Gas Made
LPG is manufactured by refining crude oil or raw natural gas, being derived exclusively from fossil fuel sources. It is stripped from the wet natural gas stream during natural gas processing and is a co-product of refining crude oil.
Whilst liquid under pressure when released from pressure at ambient temperature, it is gaseous. It is stored and transported in LPG cylinders as a liquid under moderate pressure.
The gases produced in the LPG production process are mainly propane and butane, with small fractions of other NGL gases.
POL Gas Fittings, POL Fitting, POL Valves Fittings, Cylinders & Gas Regulators
A POL gas fitting (POL fitting) is found on POL cylinders, POL valves, POL gas regulators and various POL connection fittings including hoses and adaptors. POL valve fittings are found on gas bottles ranging from small BBQ bottles to large commercial gas bottles.
Propane has a lower boiling point than butane at -42°C vs -0.4°C. Propane also has about 4x the vapour pressure of butane. This makes propane a better choice for cold climates whilst butane is a better choice for propellant use.
The big differences between butane vs propane are in the usable temperature range and the vapour pressure inside of the gas bottle. Propane can be used instead of butane in all fuel applications. Butane does not work as a fuel in a below freezing climate but butane is generally a better propellant, versus propane, due to its lower vapour pressure.
In other ways butane and propane are almost or exactly the same, such as energy content and many of their applications.
Discover the real difference between butane vs propane vs isobutane vs LPG. All three gases are consider to be LPG - Liquefied Petroleum Gas.
Gas Installation: LPG Gas Bottle Location Regulations - LPG Gas Cylinder Installation Regulations - LPG Tank Siting Location Regulations - Home LPG Gas Bottle Installation
LPG gas bottle installation regulations specify location and clearances in the placement of gas bottles. Distances from ignition sources, wall openings and below ground spaces, such as drains or pits, are all specified. Gas bottles must be placed in well ventilated locations and on a solid base.
LPG gas bottle location regulations (LPG installation regulations) for gas bottle installation summary:
Gas bottle installation upright and stable
Gas bottle installation in well ventilated space
Gas bottle installation should not be near wall openings
Keep gas bottle installation away from ignition sources and wearing non-static clothing
Keep gas bottle installation away from pits and drains
Upright and Stable
Gas bottle installation must be upright and on a solid base, like concrete or pavers not subject to the accumulation of water. Keeping it upright assures that the pressure relief valve functions correctly.
Well Ventilated Space
LPG gas bottle location regulations specify gas bottle installations need to be in a well ventilated space. They can not be in an enclosure, alcove, under the building or under stairways, for gas bottle safety.
Not Near Wall Openings
Gas bottle installation cannot be close to building openings, including windows, doors and vents, to preclude possible entry and collection of gas in enclosed spaces, as per LPG gas bottle location regulations. They need to be at least 1 metre away from any openings.
Away from Ignition Sources and Wearing Non-Static Clothing
Gas bottle installation must be clear of ignition sources by either 1.5m or 3.5m for exchange and tanker fill, respectively. This includes electrical switches, circuit breaker boxes, power points, air conditioners, NBN boxes, compressors, pumps, lights, movement sensors, bug zappers and all other electrical gear, as well as flames, like pilot lights or BBQs.
Workers should wear cotton clothing and use brass tools to minimise static electricity during gas bottle installation .
Away from Pits and Drains
LPG is heavier than air so, to avoid accumulation, gas bottle installation cannot be near pits, drains or other in-ground depressions.
See more details and diagrams below.
LPG gas cylinder installation regulations requires the proper clearance and placement of home LPG gas bottle installation as specified by LPG gas bottle location regulations (LPG tank siting location regulations). LPG gas bottle location regulations (LPG tank regulations) specify locations and clearances from sources of igniton and wall openings for your home LPG gas bottle installation.
LPG gas bottle location regulations state that ignition sources clearance must be kept a minimum safe distance (1.5m or 3.5m) from the home LPG gas bottle installation.
It is very important that the gas installation positioning meets the applicable Australian Standards including the LPG gas bottle location regulations.