A to Z of Liquefied Petroleum Gas – LPG

We use liquefied petroleum gas aka LPG as fuel more than any other hydrocarbon such as natural gas, wood, oil, etc. 

We will try to inform you the basic idea and characteristics of LPG in this post. This mixture of propane and butane generates very low smoke with a significant amount of heat. 

Though the mixture ratio of propane and butane varies for many reasons like environment, usage, etc. Such as in the northern hemisphere winter LPG contains more propane but in summer, they use more propane. There are standards from GPA, ASTM about respective mixing ratios and everything depending on environment and usage.

It’s heavier than air. The autoignition temperature of this colorless and odorless gas is 410oC, hence it won’t ignite at normal temperature. Explosive limit of LPG is 2.1% to 9.5%. It is portable, boiling point    -42oC, flash point -104oC, energy content 25MJ/L and the gas flame temperature is 1960oC – 3573oC.

Here are some points on which this article has been written-

  1. History
  2. Usage
  3. Global Production & Supply
  4. Comparison with other fuel
  5. Environmental effects

History

There is an interesting story behind the invention of LPG. 

In 1910 a car owner found an irritating problem. He used to buy Gasoline and by the time he went home half of the gasoline was gone. He went to a chemist and expert on explosives named Dr. Walter O. Snelling and asked the reason behind it. 

Snelling found that gasoline can be separated into liquid and gaseous components. He also found that the gaseous component separated from the gasoline contains propane, butane, and other hydrocarbons. 

Later he named those gases as LPG and found ways to get pure propane and started commercial liquefication and bottling of LPG. American Gasol Company founded the incorporation of Dr. O. Snelling and others are the first commercial producer of LPG.

Usage

People use LPG in many sectors. We use bottled LPG at power generation, construction, industrial, recreation, cooking, heating appliances, car fuel, etc. 

According to the WLPGA statistics report 2015, we were using LPG in 6 sectors (Domestic- 44%, Agriculture – 1%, Industry – 12%, Transport – 9%, Refinery – 8%, Chemical – 26%, etc.). But at the end of 2019, there are more than 2 crore cars all around the world which are using LPG as fuel namely, Autogas

LPG is being used as a refrigerant as a replacement of R-12, R-22, R-134a, etc. because it has a very low global warming potential. 

In Europe, LPG is being used as alternative heating fuel. As it is very portable it can be used anywhere anytime. The LPG sector is booming. The USA is the major producer and world’s largest exporter of LPG. Africa, India and southern Asia have shown extraordinary growth in LPG consumption. 

Global Production

Sub Saharan Africa showed vigorous growth in LPG usage. Among new applications, LPG is being used as marine fuel and fuel for power generation. 

Around 6 lakh vehicle all around the world is converted into LPG in 2018. 

To meet up this large demand production of LPG has been increased significantly. USA is well known for being a major producer and the world’s largest supplier of LPG. 

In 2015 global consumption of LPG was 284 million metric tons/year while global production of LPG was 292 million metric tons/year. Around 62% of LPG is extracted from natural gas, the rest of it is being produced from the petrochemical industry while refining crude oil. 

Europe is self-sufficient with their produced LPG as they have oil refineries and numerous sources of natural gas. Moreover, they have a flexible supply chain via water, road, and rail which shows various entry points in Europe. 

An estimation of natural gas resources from which LPG is derived shows that in 2010-2012 the stock is 300 trillion cubic meters. Production is still growing at 2.2% rate per year which indicates that there is no risk of demand outrunning the supply.

Comparison with other fuel

I will prefer using LPG instead of LNG cause it’s cheaper, portable and produces higher energy. As natural gas is lighter than air it gives more safety than LPG. For more comparisons in details click here.

Environmental Effects

If you ask us,” Why Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is better than Wood? “we would be given the below answer. 

Wood emits 5 times of carbon than LPG while burning. LPG transfers about 50% of its total energy where wood is providing only 10-20% while cooking. If we see the impact of reducing CO2 in a smaller picture then annual savings per person will be 211kg CO2, about 1.06 tons for a medium family consisting of five members. 

If you drive a brand-new car for 8,000km then you will emit the same amount of CO2 that can be reduced by using LPG. LPG is better for indoor use as it doesn’t produce choking smoke like wood after putting off the fire. 

Also collecting woods costs a significant amount of time. By switching to LPG this time can be spared and be used in many other productive ways. Wood carrying is a tough job for humans as well as animals. Those who carry wood would have to go through a lot of stress. It can be a cause of several accidents and pain through the continuous load-carrying job. On the other and people who use wood as cooking fuel are subjected to a lot of carbon emission each day. Pneumonia, bronchitis, lung cancer, asthma, heart disease are some dangerous things that might happen to people for excessive exposure to the wood burner exhaust system.

There are many more things that can be written about LPG. What do you think about LPG, please tell us at Gasask.

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