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Propane – All You Need To Know

Despite having a small place in the country’s energy industry, propane has found a significant place in many industries and is used for a number of uses, including in farms, homes, and factories. Also called bottled gas, propane is a colorless hydrocarbon and can exist in both liquid and gaseous forms. At atmospheric pressure and room temperature, it is a gas, while the propane in containers and tanks is liquefied by pressurizing it. The liquid form is what we know as LPG or liquified petroleum gas.   

Consumption of propane 

LPG use makes up almost 3% of Canada’s energy needs. Up to 50% of propane produced in the country is used domestically. Propane is known to be very versatile and has a number of uses not only in industry and homes, but also in agriculture, recreational purposes, and as a transportation fuel.  

Why is propane so popular?

Propane accounts for 3% of the total energy needs and is ranked as one of the most important energy sources in the country.

Propane has gained a lot of popularity for a number of reasons. It helps many rural residents by providing them with a reliable and relatively clean-burning fuel. Plus, the sales of propane-related equipment and the distribution of propane have helped to support rural economies. 

It is also quite popular because, just like natural gas, propane is also one of the cleanest burning fossil fuel products and releases only a negligible amount of emissions. Plus, when it burns, it doesn’t leave behind any ash and produces almost no particulate matter, mercury emissions, or sulfur oxides.   

Uses of propane 

As mentioned earlier, propane accounts for nearly 3% of the energy used in Canada. Out of this, only a small percentage is used for transportation. Propane is mainly used for water and home heating, refrigerating and cooking food, powering industrial and farm equipment, and drying clothes. Propane is also used as a raw material in the chemical industry to make compounds like plastic.  

Let’s have a closer look into the uses: 

Industrial

Almost half of the amount of propane used by industries is to make plastic. It is also used to run machinery, process heat, and to cut metal. Propane is also needed to produce materials like synthetic vulcanized rubber, solvents, and aerosol propellants.

Metalworkers make use of small propane tanks for fueling equipment, such as cutting torches. Moreover, propane heaters provide road and construction workers the warmth they need while working in the cold. Similarly, propane heaters at construction sites are needed for drying concrete, fuel pitch, and plaster. Propane is also used to heat asphalt for highway repairs and construction.  

Business 

Different commercial and business establishments, ranging from laundromats to restaurants to grocery stores, make use of propane for cooking and heating. 

Agriculture 

Farmers need propane to operate different kinds of farm equipment propane is used for tasks like sterilizing milk equipment, warming chicken coops, and drying crops. Stats show that in 2012 alone, agriculture accounted for 4% of the demand for propane, which increased to 5% in recent years.  

Household 

The majority of rural homeowners don’t have access to natural gas pipelines. For this reason, they turn to propane for cooking, drying clothes, heating the house, and water heating. Residential use accounts for 9% of the demand for propane and the use increases in winter when seasonal heating load increases.  

Apart from such heating and drying, propane is also used as fuel for outdoor gas grills. Caterers and restaurants also use propane for cooking food and for keeping it warm. Patio heaters used in outdoor seating areas in winters also use propane as fuel.    

Propane is a common fuel with those who often cook outdoors. Plus, given its portability, propane is quite popular with mobile homeowners and campers.

RVs also usually come with propane-fueled appliances, which provide them with a portable source of energy for refrigeration, hot water, and cooking. 

Transportation

As compared to other fuels, such as solar cells, electricity, and fuel cells, propane is the energy source for more low-emission vehicles. Since it is a clean-burning fuel that produces low emissions, it is ideal for equipment used on construction sites or warehouses where indoor air quality is essential, such as lift trucks and forklifts. It is also ideal for operating equipment in enclosed spaces, such as underground mines. 

Propane is also used as fuel for vehicle fleets that have access to centralized LPG stations, such as taxis and busses, particularly in urban areas looking to lower tailpipe exhaust emissions. 

Production of electricity 

Some utilities also use propane as fuel for backup electrical generators at times when the demand for electricity is high. It is also used when there’s some disruption in the supply of other energy sources. More and more homeowners have also started to install propane-powered generators as a backup energy source for their homes. 

Using propane as an alternative fuel 

A few interesting characteristics make propane an ideal engine fuel. Factors like relatively low cost, clean-burning qualities, domestic availability, and high energy density make it a good option as an alternative transportation fuel. Right behind gasoline and diesel, propane is considered as the third most common transportation fuel in the world. For decades, it has been used to power heavy, medium, and light-duty propane vehicles.  

Since propane has a high octane rating, it makes for an excellent option for spark-ignited combustion engines. Plus, when released or spilled from a vehicle, it poses no threat to groundwater, surface water, or soil. It also leaves no carbon, varnish, or lead deposits that can cause the spark plugs, valves, rings, or pistons to prematurely wear. As a result, the engine stays clean and free of sludge and carbon, which means that it requires less maintenance, and the engine’s life is extended.  

In addition, propane is all fuel, which means it doesn’t need any additives like some grades of gasoline and diesel. Engines using propane also contribute to air pollution less than gasoline engines do. CO emissions from propane engines are 50-92% less than emissions from gas engines. Similarly, hydrocarbon emissions are 30-62% less. The reduced emissions make it a clean-burning alternative to be used as engine fuel.   

 

Bird Fuels delivers propane, furnace oil, clear diesel, dyed diesel, DEF & lubricants to commercial and residential customers from Collingwood, Orangeville & Owen Sound. Contact us today for all your fuel delivery needs.

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