The roots of the propane industry were planted when American chemist Walter O. Snelling discovered that some evaporating gases could be transformed into liquids. Out of all the gases, propane turned out to be the most plentiful. From there, Snelling discovered a method to bottle the liquid gas. Bottle gas, or bottled gas, is a term that you will still hear or read about 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 in your propane tank makes propane a reliable fuel choice for your Iowa home or business, and all its potential appliances and equipment, throughout the year.
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, of course, propane as well. During the stabilization phase of the refining, the heavier hydrocarbons fall to the bottom. But propane, because it is a lighter hydrocarbon, stays at the top and it’s easily extracted.
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 natural gas is taken 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.
Propane is an ideal fuel for many purposes, even beyond your water heater and heating your home with your furnace, space heater or fireplace. It’s also useful for stoves and clothes dryers, as well as for outdoor use, including grills, pool and patio heating and exterior lighting. And peace of mind is never far off when you have a propane-fueled generator on standby. So, you really have a lot of options when you get your propane delivery.
Propane is a clean-burning fossil fuel that was recognized as an alternative fuel in both the 1990 Clean Air Act and the 1992 National Energy Policy. Unlike natural gas, propane does not contain methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In the rare event of a leak, propane has no detrimental impact on the air, soil, water, aquatic life, marine life, or plant life.
Today’s high-efficiency propane heating systems and other propane appliances such as water heaters have high efficiency ratings. That efficiency, along with propane’s clean-burning properties, allows you to reduce your home’s carbon footprint without having to sacrifice comfort or convenience.
Please reach out to your local Iowa propane supplier if you have questions about propane delivery, your propane tank or anything else.