Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)

June 29, 2010Oil and Gas Industryby EconomyWatch


Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is a combination of gases made of hydrogen and carbon atoms. The most common mix includes 60% propane and 40% butane, with small quantities of alkenes. A strong odorant, ethanethiol, is added to facilitate the early detection of leakages. Its international standard is EN 589.

Properties of LPG

LPG is the cleanest fuel, emitting lower amounts of carbon dioxide than coal or oil. It has a higher calorific value (46.1 MJ/kg) than both diesel and gasoline, but has the lowest energy density of the three. Being heavier than air, LPG tends to gravitate towards the floor and low lying spots, leading to ignition or suffocation hazards. It is non-toxic, non-corrosive and free of tetra ethyl red. It has a high octane number.

Uses of Liquefied Petroleum Gas

Here are some uses of liquefied petroleum gas:

  • It is used as a refrigerant and aerosol propellant. It emerges as a better option than chlorofluorocarbons that damage the ozone layer (which acts as a check on the harmful UV rays). This advocates their use in conventional refrigeration and air conditioning systems.

  • LPG is also used as a motor fuel (then known as autogas) in internal combustion engines and diesel engines. Also, stationary equipments like generators can also run on LPG.

  • It is one of the most popular cooking fuels in the urban areas of countries such as Brazil and India. In 2001, almost 35 million Indian households were using liquefied petroleum gas for cooking purposes.

Processing of LPG

LPG is produced during the process in which crude oil is refined. It is also manufactured from wet natural gas. Raw gas from gas wells is directed to a processing unit for the removal of waste water, acid and nitrogen rich gases and other impurities. Subsequently, it undergoes a sweetening process.

Storage and Supply of LPG

Both butane and propane can be liquefied easily, simplifying their storage through the use of pressure containers. The portability of LPG ensures its easy transportation to end-users. Huge amounts of LPG are stored in massive tanks and buried underground for future use. Gas cylinders can also be used for storage. LPG is supplied in pressurized steel bottles to prevent it from vaporizing at normal temperatures and pressures.

Its clean burning property makes it an ideal alternative for traditional fuels such as coal and wood. Hence, its use can solve problems like deforestation and pollution.