Propane is a hydrocarbon (C3H8) and is sometimes referred to as liquefied petroleum gas, LP-Gas or LPG. Propane is produced from both natural gas processing and crude oil refining. It is nontoxic, colorless and virtually odorless. An identifying odor (Mercaptan)is added so the gas can be readily detected.
Propane Is a Safe Fuel
The propane industry has developed numerous methods to ensure the safe transport and use of propane:
- Propane equipment and appliances are manufactured to rigorous safety standards.
- Propane has a narrow range of flammability when compared with other petroleum products. In order to ignite, the propane-air mix must contain from 2.2 to 9.6 percent propane vapor. If the mixture contains less than 2.2 percent gas, it is too lean to burn. If it contains more than 9.6 percent, it is too rich to burn.
- Propane won’t ignite when combined with air unless the source of ignition reaches at least 940 degrees Fahrenheit. In contrast, gasoline will ignite when the source of ignition reaches only 430 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
- If liquid propane leaks, it doesn’t puddle but instead vaporizes and dissipates into the air.
- Because it is released from a pressured container as a vapor, propane can’t be ingested like gasoline or alcohol fuels.
- Because propane is virtually odorless and colorless in its natural state, a commercial odorant (Mercaptan)is added so propane can be detected if it leaks from its container.
Safety Starts with Education
The propane industry in Pennsylvania is engaged in ongoing training, education, and awareness-building efforts to promote and advance the safe handling, use, and maintenance of propane and propane-fueled equipment:
- PA Propane Gas Association offers an award-winning preventive maintenance program called GAS Check (Gas Appliance System Check). Trained technicians inspect entire propane systems and appliances to ensure they are running safely and efficiently, so consumers can save money and enjoy a healthy environment.
- The Certified Employee Training Program (CETP) is the training program recognized in Pennsylvania by the Department of Labor and Industry. CETP has become the industry’s flagship curriculum in workforce training and certification, and being continually updated and expanded,
- Emergency Responder Training – a comprehensive training program for Pennsylvania’s public safety agencies and propane marketers. The educational package includes a 220 -page textbook, Propane Emergencies. The objectives of the emergency response program are to increase the level of responder safety, improve efficiency to mitigate emergencies, and to encourage propane marketers and local emergency responders to develop working relationships before an accident occurs.
Propane Is a Versatile Fuel
Propane is used by millions of people in many different settings – in the home, on the road, on the farm, and at work.
- Propane is used in 48 million households as well as many businesses for water and space heating, indoor and outdoor cooking, clothes drying, and backup power.
- Propane AutoGas is an approved clean alternative fuel under the Clean Air Act of 1990 and the third most popular vehicle fuel worldwide behind gasoline and diesel.
- Propane is commonly used to fuel school buses, light- and medium-duty trucks, vans, shuttles, taxicabs, and police and government vehicles.
- Landscape contractors trust propane to stand up to the toughest jobs daily. Sixteen of the top mower brands offer propane-powered options.
- Nearly 900,000 farms in the United States use propane to run pumps and engines, heat buildings, and dry and process crops.
- Propane is easy to transport and can be used in areas where natural gas is not available (or otherwise known as – beyond the natural gas mains). Because it is 270 times more compact as a liquid than as a gas, it is economical to store and transport as a liquid.
Propane Is a Good Value
- Overall, propane fuel (AutoGas) for vehicles typically costs less than conventional or reformulated gasoline.
Propane Is an Environmentally Friendly Fuel
- Propane is an approved, clean fuel listed in the 1990 Clean Air Act as well as the National Energy Policy Act of 1992.
- Propane is one of the lightest, simplest hydrocarbons in existence, and, as a result, is one of the cleanest burning of all fossil fuels.
- Burning coal to generate electricity releases carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere. Per pound of fuel burned, coal emits more than twice the amount of carbon dioxide as does propane. By using propane gas instead of electricity, consumers can cut emissions and help preserve the environment.
- Propane gas is nontoxic, so it’s not harmful to soil and water. Because propane does not endanger the environment, the placement of propane tanks either above or below ground is not regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- According to the EPA, much of the sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere, which produces acid rain, is attributable to coal-fired electricity-generating facilities. In contrast, neither the process by which propane is produced nor the combustion of propane gas produces significant acid rain contaminants.