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Do You Know How Propane Gas is Created?

propane 101 iowa

Since propane was first identified as a volatile compound in gasoline in 1910, businesses and scientists have worked diligently to make propane the viable fuel source it represents today. The process itself of making propane has evolved over the last century or so. Today, there are two primary ways propane is produced.

Because propane is created through the processing of natural gas and crude oil, it is a fuel that is largely a domestic product. In fact, about 90 % of the American propane supply is generated right here in the United States! That abundant, right-at-home supply makes propane a reliable fuel choice for your Iowa home or business, and all its potential appliances and equipment, throughout the year.

Crude oil refining

Some propane is created during the process of crude oil refining. There are a lot of products that can be derived from crude oil refining, including gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, jet fuel and heating oil—and propane as well. During the stabilization phase of the refining, the heavier hydrocarbons fall to the bottom. But propane, being a lighter hydrocarbon, is at the top and it’s easily extracted.

Natural gas production

The process of crude oil refining plays a small role in the production of propane, however. The majority of propane is derived today from natural gas production. When we take natural gas out of the earth, it is a mix of different gases. One of these gases is propane.

To stop condensation from forming in natural gas pipelines, propane is extracted from liquid compounds as the natural gas is being processed. Butane is also extracted during this process. Propane, being much denser as a liquid than as a gas, is stored and transported as a liquid in this form of production.

How is propane gas different from natural gas?

One of the drawbacks of natural gas is that it can only get to your home through an underground pipeline. If something goes wrong with that pipeline, you can’t get any gas. Propane is easier to move around because it gets compressed, or squeezed, until it turns into a liquid. It is then put inside large storage tanks and your propane supplier then delivers it to your home or business as needed.

The compression of propane can be somewhat compared to the air in a car tire, which gets squeezed to about two or three times normal air pressure. But the gas in a propane tank gets squeezed about 100 times more than that. This is why even a small tank can deliver a lot of liquid propane gas (LPG).

What happens with propane when I turn on a gas appliance?

The propane in your tank is stored as a liquid. When your appliance calls for propane, the liquid changes to gas before it leaves the tank. At that point, it’s similar to natural gas again, and it can create the heat you need for cooking and heating.

Why not make propane the green clean fuel energy source for your Iowa home or business? Learn more about how propane’s versatility and efficiency can give you more comfort and convenience in your home. Propane can do that! Contact your local propane company to explore ways to expand your use of propane.


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