Fri. Sep 24th, 2021

City gas distribution

Transporting future fuel

#9 LPG – Liquified Petroleum Gas

5 min read

LPG – liquefied petroleum gas, the constituents of which are propane and butane, are flammable hydrocarbon fuel gases used for LPG heating, cooking and vehicles.

LPG is made up of carbon and hydrogen atoms forming propane and butane whilst natural gas is made up of lighter methane, the simplest carbon and hydrogen molecule.

LPG is made up of a group of flammable hydrocarbon gases that are liquefied through pressurisation and commonly used as fuel. Natural gas is liquefied cryogenically.

LPG is made up of a number of gases under the LPG products label, including propane, butane, isobutane and mixtures of these gases. LPG is stored in steel vessels ranging from small BBQ gas bottles to larger gas cylinders and tanks.

LPG heating gases are 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 gases can all be compressed into liquid at relatively low pressures. Gas in LPG tanks is LPG liquid under pressure, from 0 kPa at -42°C to 1794 kPa at 54°C, and turns back into gas when you release some of the pressure. The LPG (propane) exists as both liquid and vapour (gas) within the cylinder.

LPG has 2 main origins. Around 60% of the gas comes from the extraction of natural gas and oil from the earth. The other 40% is produced through the refining of crude oil. Traditionally, LPG was wasted and burnt off as an unwanted by-product of the production of other fuel sources. But, now it’s recognised as a versatile low-carbon fuel that can provide an exceptional amount of energy.

Commercial natural gas is made up primarily of methane, but also includes a mixture of several gases and liquids, including propane and butane. So, before natural gas is marketed, some of the natural gas liquids, including LPG, are separated out.

LPGs are produced at various stages of refinement, such as atmospheric distillation, reforming and cracking. LPG accounts for only 1-4% of crude oil processed, dependent on the type of crude oil, the oil refinery and the market values of LPG.

After the oil and gas production rigs process the gas, the LPG is transported from the production site to large storage terminals, where it is kept at the ideal temperature.

LPG fuel is not just a single gas. There are a number of gases that fall under the LPG fuel type category. The most common of these LPG products include propane, butane (n-butane) and isobutane (i-butane), as well as mixtures of these gases.

LPG is stored in pressure vessels. As such, it is almost always stored in its liquid form. These can range from small camping canisters to BBQ gas bottles to larger gas cylinders and much larger LPG tanks or bullets. LPG can also be stored underground in specially built or prepared caverns.

LPG has a high heating or caloric value which means that as an energy source, LPG provides a high level of heat in a short lifetime. LPG also has a virtual absence of sulphur, leading to cleaner burning. Usually sold in gas cylinders, LPG is a convenient, portable energy source that is easy to transport and store.  

For industry, LPG has a consistent quality. That means when it’s used for gas engines in forklifts or industrial boilers, it’s reliable and steady.

You can check the level of gas in your LPG cylinder by carefully pouring hot water down the side of the cylinder. Give it a minute and then run your hand down the cylinder. It will feel cool to the touch at the level of the gas. Be super careful with the hot water!

Chemical FormulaC3H8
Energy Content: MJ/m393.2
Energy Content: Btu/ft32572
Energy Content: MJ/kg49.58
Boiling Temp: Cº-42
Flame Temp: Cº1967
Flame Temp: Fº3573
Gas Volume: m3/kg
Specific Gravity1.5219
Density @15ºC: kg/m31.899

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