What is LPG? – Liquefied Petroleum Gas
LPG heats our homes, cooks our food and fuels our cars but what is LPG?
How is LPG made, how does it work and what is it used for?
All of these questions answered and more…
“What is LPG?” The Short Answer:
What is LPG? LPG in gas bottles.
1. LPG (or LP Gas) is the acronym for Liquefied Petroleum Gas or Liquid Petroleum Gas.
2. LPG is a group of flammable hydrocarbon gases that are liquefied through pressurisation and commonly used as fuel.
3. LPG comes from natural gas processing and petroleum refining.
4. There are a number of gases that fall under the “LPG” label, including propane, butane (n-butane) and isobutane (i-butane), as well as mixtures of these gases.
5. LPG gases can all be compressed into liquid at relatively low pressures.
6. LPG is frequently used for fuel in heating, cooking, hot water and vehicles, as well as for refrigerants, aerosol propellants and petrochemical feedstock.
7. LPG is generally stored, as a liquid, in steel vessels ranging from small BBQ gas bottles to larger gas cylinders and LPG storage tanks. (45kg gas bottles shown)
LPG Goes by Many Names
In Bangladesh, LPG is Liquefied Petroleum Gas.
Propane is LPG but not all LPG is propane.
LPG goes by many names and this can sometimes be confusing.
It is also called LPG Gas, LP Gas, Propane, BBQ Gas, Camping Gas or Autogas.
In the USA it is just called Propane.
In the UK, it is referred to as either propane, butane or LPG, depending on what you choose.
How Does LPG Work?
Propane for leisure LPG 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 gas appliance.
Almost all of the uses for LPG involve the use of the gas vapour, not the liquefied gas.
What is LPG Used For?
LPG has hundreds, if not thousands, of uses.
The LPG uses most people can name are around the home, in their cars or for their business.
It is used in leisure time activities including caravans, boats, recreational vehicles, hot air balloons and camping.
Business and industry use LPG for a multitude of processes including steam boilers, kilns, ovens and LPG 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 LPG.
Transport is also a big user of LPG (Autogas), either as propane or propane mixed with butane, to power various vehicle types.
There are also many, many more LPG applications, including power generation and the hospitality industry.
What is LPG made of: LPG Composition
The gases that fall under the “LPG” label, including ethane, ethylene, propane, propylene, normal butane, butylene, isobutane and isobutylene, as well as mixtures of these gases.
The two most common are Propane and Butane.
In Australia, LPG is Propane.
Propane is the gas that is supplied to virtually all homes and most businesses that purchase LPG in Australia.
LPG – propane moleculePropane is a flammable hydrocarbon gas with 3 carbon and 8 hydrogen atoms in a propane molecule.
The chemical formula for propane is C3H8. (Propane molecule model shown)
Propane is not made or manufactured, it is found naturally in combination with other hydrocarbons.
Propane is produced during natural gas processing and petroleum refining.
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).
LPG is supplied in gas bottles that are either exchanged or refilled on site by LPG tankers.
Large users may utilise bigger LPG storage tanks. The chemical formula for Propane is C3H8.
However, no worries, as it’s all the same gas.
LPG – Butane molecule
Butane (n-butane) is also considered to be LPG.
Butane is a flammable hydrocarbon gas that is liquefied through pressurisation.
The chemical formula for Butane is C4H10, with 4 carbon and 10 hydrogen atoms in a butane molecule. (Butane molecule model shown)
Butane is commonly used as a fuel, propellant and refrigerant, as well as a petrochemical feedstock.
Butane is supplied to businesses that require Butane, as opposed to propane.
Butane has some specific applications where it has advantages over propane.
Autogas is also LPG.
Autogas that is sold at service stations can be propane or a propane/butane mix.
Not only is running an LPG car economical, but Autogas is also cleaner burning fuel than petrol, so engine life is actually extended and greenhouse gas emissions reduced.
Where does LPG come from?
LPG is produced during natural gas processing and petroleum refining.
Propane does not occur naturally in isolation.
Once refined, LPG is stored as a liquid under pressure in gas bottles or tanks.
At the point of use it once again becomes a gas.
Refined from Oil & Natural Gas
- LPG processing involves separation and collection of the gas from its petroleum base.
- LPG is isolated from the hydrocarbon mixtures by separation from natural gas or by the refining of crude oil.
- Both processes begin by drilling oil wells.
- The gas/oil mixture is piped out of the well and into a gas trap, which separates the stream into crude oil and “wet” gas, which contains
- LPG and natural gas.
- The heavier crude oil sinks to the bottom of the trap and is then pumped into an oil storage tank for refining.
- Crude oil undergoes a variety of refining processes, including catalytic cracking, crude distillation, and others.
- One of the refined products is LPG.
- The “wet” gas, off the top of the gas trap, is processed to separate the gasoline (petrol) from the natural gas and LPG.
- The natural gas, which is mostly methane, is piped to towns and cities for distribution by gas utility companies.
- The petrol is shipped to service stations.
- The LPG also enters the distribution network, where it eventually finds its way to end users, including Home LPG and Commercial
- LPG users all around the world.
Why Use LPG?
LPG is an eco-friendly choice, as it is a low carbon, low sulphur fuel.
LPG results in lower CO2 emissions than other energy sources, such as coal fired electricity.
For example, replacing your electric hot water system with a 6-Star LPG continuous flow hot water system may reduce the greenhouse gas emissions produced from your hot water use by about 75%.
It is also easy to transport, in cylinders or tankers, making it available virtually everywhere.