The LPG Basics
LPG stands for Liquefied Petroleum Gas. It is comprised of either propane or butane gas, or a mixture of the two. It is a flammable combination of hydrocarbon gases.
As it burns more cleanly than other fuels such as heating oil and coal, producing less carbon dioxide and sulphur, it is a great way to minimise your impact on the environment.
How is it Made?
LPG was first commercially produced in 1912, after being discovered by accident. Dr Walter Snellings responded to a complaint that a gallon of petrol was only half a gallon by the time it had been transported home. Dr Snellings found that this was because petroleum quickly evaporated, creating propane and butane, and he was able to separate the gases from the liquid.
LPG is a by-product of the crude oil refinement process, or can be extracted along with Methane as it leaves the ground. After it is extracted from gas fields, it is dried before being used.
Because its boiling point is below room temperature, it is stored in pressurised steel containers to prevent evaporation. It is also easy to convert to liquid, which has a higher density, meaning that a large amount of LPG can be stored in a small space, being again converted to gas when it leaves the vessel.
What is it used for?
LPG makes up approximately 3 per cent of energy consumed, and is used for a range of purposes.
Predominantly in rural locations that are not connected to mains gas and electricity, it is used for household appliances. It can be used to power heating, cooking devices, and electricity generators. In refrigerators, LPG is a good alternative to chlorofluorocarbons, which damage the ozone layer.
LPG is also commonly used as an autogas in vehicles fitted with LPG bi-fuel tanks, and has a variety of benefits. It burns more cleanly than other vehicle fuels, producing less Co2 and fewer nitrogen oxides. Because it is cleaner, it is also better for your engine, helping it to run more quietly and smoothly, as well as generally giving it a longer life. Because of its lower fuel duty, it can help you save money on fuel too.
LPG can even be used in agriculture. Its energy can be harnessed for heating and lighting for poultry and livestock rearing, and can also be employed in crop drying.
Now that you can answer the question, “What is LPG?”, you can make more informed decisions about the way you use it, and perhaps explore other ways of employing it, whether in your home, in your business, or in your car.
UKLPG have made a useful video highlighting the benefits of LPG for homes and businesses, which can be viewed here.