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What Is Liquefied Petroleum Gas?

Butane is often used in lighters.
Propane is often stored in tanks that can be interchanged among various items, such as portable cooking stoves.
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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2014
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Liquefied petroleum gas is often abbreviated as LPG. This should not mislead a person to think that there is only one type. Propane, butane, and isobutane all fall into this category. When a sufficient amount of pressure is added to these gases, they become liquefied. If it were not pressurized and stored in special containers, LPGs would quickly evaporate.

These gases can be used as mainstay fuels, but they are often considered alternative fuels. Their use in either case is due in large part to Dr. Walter Snelling, who was the first to receive a patent for producing them. Before his experimentation, these gases were considered problematic and they were viewed as waste products.

The various types of LPGs can be mixed in varying proportions. This is usually determined by how the product will be used. The environment that it will be used in always plays a role.

When an LPG will be used in a cold environment, for example, a great deal of propane is often used. Propane is considered to be the best liquefied petroleum gas for low temperatures. Even when temperatures have fallen well below freezing, the gas can still vaporize and be easily ignited.

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Although it is generally more versatile than the commonly listed fossil fuels, liquefied petroleum gas is also a fossil fuel. It can be extracted when oil or natural gas is pumped from the ground. It can also be produced by refining natural gas or oil. Even when production is not intentional, LPG is produced as a byproduct when other fossil fuel materials are produced.

Another advantage to liquefied petroleum gas is that it is more environmentally friendly than many other options. It burns without soot. It also does not produce the problematic emissions that are often the cause of controversy with other fossil fuels. Furthermore, because it is not water soluble and vaporizes so quickly, it is does pose threats of water pollution.

These gases are used for numerous purposes. Butane is often used in lighters. Propane is often stored in tanks that can be interchanged among various items. These include portable cooking stoves, heaters, and portable water heaters.

Some vehicles also have the ability to operate using LPG. There are advantages in this regard which can include extended life of spark plugs and reduced engine corrosion. Another attractive advantage for using liquefied petroleum gas in vehicles is that in most places it tends to be cheaper.

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