Ontario Propane Blog

About Propane - Its History & Applications

Posted by James Callow on Mon, Jul 31, 2017 @ 09:37 PM

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Propane was first discovered in 1857 by Marcellin Berthelot, a French chemist, but it wasn’t until 1910 for propane to be identified as a volatile component in gasoline. Walter Snelling, and American chemist, first made the observation that lead to the vapour being recognized as an energy source. Along with some colleagues he started the American Gasol Co. and became the first to market propane.

In 1912, a patent was issued for producing LP gas through compression, and commercial use grew. By 1935, the annual sales of LP gas reached 56 million US gallons. During the 30’s, innovations were made in transportation, gas odorization, and the construction of bottle-filling plants.

Since then propane production has been increasing rapidly. In 2004, over 15 billion US gallons were used annually in the United States.

Where Does Propane Come From?

Propane is obtained in a number of different ways. One method is natural gas processing, which involves the removal of butane, propane, and ethane. This prevents condensation in natural gas pipelines. Oil refineries also produce some propane as a by-product of cracking petroleum into gasoline or heating oil. Cracking is the process of deconstructing large alkane into smaller, more useful alkanes and alkenes. Cracking usually requires high temperatures and/or high pressure.

Most of the propane that we use in North America is produced here, and the demand for propane has been skyrocketing since its commercial beginnings 1911. Canada exports propane to meet approximately 7% of the US demand. As the quantities of propane are quite considerable, that begs a question.

How is propane stored?

After production, propane gets stored in massive salt caverns (Fort Saskatchewan, Mont Belvieu, Conway), capable of holding 80 million (13 million cubic metres) barrels, or more, of propane. These facilities are needed to keep up with the demand for propane. Canada produces approximately 11 million cubic metres of propane a year. 85% of this propane is produced through natural gas processing, and 15% coming from oil refining.

Applications of Propane

Propane is perfect for barbecues and portable stoves because it vaporizes as soon as it is released due to its low boiling point of -42c. That means that there is no need for carburetors or any other vaporizing device, all you need is a metering nozzle.

Propane also powers some vehicles; zambonis, locomotives, buses, forklifts, as well as some taxis. It is also a great fit for cooking and heating mobile homes/campers. There are many applications around the world. In Australia for example, propane is used to heat livestock facilities, in grain dryers, and heat producing appliances.

Propane is starting to be used more and more as a gasoline and diesel alternative due to its environmental and cost benefits. In the US over 190 thousand street legal vehicles used exclusively propane, and almost half a million forklifts. The propane used to power these vehicles is called autogas. In 2007, propane vehicles worldwide reached 13 million placing propane in 3rd for most popular vehicle fuel, behind gasoline and diesel fuel of course.

Propane is the fuel of choice for many commercial businesses who use it for heating, cooking, water heating, and processes. Residential home and cottage owners throughout central Ontario, use propane as the primary energy source - powering furnaces, water heaters, dryers, and stoves. In these applications, propane is delivered to the business or home, filling large upright or vertical cylinders that are permanent fixtures on the property.

Budget Propane is a family bulk propane company serving residential, commercial, and construction / industrial businesses in central Ontario. We're propane experts, with decades of experience and qualified application specialists and licensed installers. Need pricing for propane? Contact us today!

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