A bi-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining, propane is one of the most widely used sources of fuel in the nation whether it be for heating, cooking, or industrial purposes. Propane has been used since the early 1900s once it was able to be packaged in liquid form for sale and transportation purposes. As perhaps one of the most cost efficient fuel choices available, we could all stand to learn a little bit more about propane. Here are five different propane facts that may surprise even the most avid of propane enthusiasts and salesmen.
The Physical Qualities of Propane
Propane as we know it exists in two physical forms: liquid propane and gas propane. At most temperatures, propane exists in its gaseous state. This gas is non-toxic, colorless, and odorless naturally. One of the most interesting propane facts concerns its odor; because propane is highly flammable, an identifying odor is added so that it can be readily detected. Propane reverts to its liquid form when it is chilled below its boiling point — a chilly -44 degrees Fahrenheit.
Contained Propane Tanks
Many propane services compress gaseous propane down into its liquid form to be stored in easily accessible propane tanks. Inside the tank, the propane exists simultaneously as both a liquid and a vapor. Once someone needs to access the propane, the vapor is what gets released from the container as a clean burning gas fuel. Another of the most interesting propane facts is how compact the propane becomes in its liquid state; propane is 270 times more compact as a liquid than a gas, which is why it is the most economical and practical fuel option for many Americans.
As a bi-product from natural gas and petroleum refining processes, the utilization of propane is a marvel of human engineering in and of itself. The split for propane manufacturing is relatively even as the refinement of crude oil and natural gas processing produces nearly equal amounts of propane. The United States has always been a leader in propane production throughout the world as 90% of the propane supply in the United States is produced domestically; around 70% of the remaining 10% that is imported comes from nearby Mexico and Canada.
Use of Propane in Farming
Many people fail to realize just how much of an impact propane use makes on commercial farming enterprises. As one of the most little known of propane facts, there are over 660,000 farmers that use propane in a number of agricultural applications. Propane is regularly used to power irrigation pumps, grain dryers, standby generators and other farm equipment that is generally operated in the field. Even off the fields, propane remains an essential fuel for crop drying, flame cultivation, fruit ripening, space and water heating, and food refrigeration. Without propane, many of our nation’s farmers would struggle to get the work done that is needed to feed a nation.
Propane is regularly used in all sectors of industry. There are over 350,000 industrial sites that rely on propane every day for a number of applications. Some of these uses for industrial propane include space heating, brazing, soldering, cutting, heat treating, annealing, and vulcanizing among many other uses. Many products need propane as a crucial element of their construction; even plastic Lego bricks and similar products are made using propane. Next time you go out to light up the grill, consider everything that went into the development, storage, and use of propane and you’ll be sure to have a greater appreciation for what human ingenuity can accomplish.