Propane is a widely used fuel in America. Have you ever heard of it? Well, propane is commonly known as LPG, i.e., Liquefied Petroleum Gas. Now, it must have rung some bells. Propane is widely used for cooking, as fuel for different engines, and also for heating.
You might be wondering whether propane would last till the winter or not. Its property of high longevity is, after all, one of its USPs.
Does propane go bad? No, propane can never go bad. The shelf life of this gas is claimed to be indefinite. But if propane can’t go bad, why is there a date of expiry on the propane containers that we purchase? Because it is the propane container that can expire, and not the gas inside it.
Did you know that propane is a much cleaner alternative to fuels like diesel and petrol?
Today, the US has emerged to be the largest producer of propane in the world. Don’t you want to know why propane is so popular? If you still haven’t used any propane-powered appliances, you must try using one.
In this article, we will tell you the reason behind the popular usage of propane, methods of storing it, and how it is a better alternative than diesel and petrol. Stay with us till the end to get caught up with propane.
What is Propane?
Propane is a hydrocarbon with the chemical formula C3H8. It is a colorless gas that can be easily liquefiable. It is extracted in large quantities from crude oil, natural gas, and other oil refinery gases.
This compound is made available commercially by liquefying it. As mentioned earlier, propane is also known as Liquefied Petroleum Gas or LPG or LP gas.
Did you know that 90 percent of the propane used is produced domestically in the USA? What could lead it to become the world’s largest producer of propane?
Such an increase in the production of propane occurred in less than a decade. It was because of the increase in growth of producing oil and natural gas from US shale.
The combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling led to the US Shale Revolution. It significantly allowed the country to raise the production of oil and natural gas. It now accounts for 36 percent of the total crude oil produced in the USA. This revolution reduced the nation’s dependence on oil imports drastically.
Does Propane go bad?
Now, let’s address the elephant in the room. Does propane go bad? Honestly, propane never expires, but the container in which it is stored can get spoilt if not inspected.
As mentioned earlier, propane’s ability to not expire is one of its USPs. You don’t have to quickly use it all up within a certain time like you have to in the case of kerosene and diesel.
Fuels like kerosene and diesel degrade over time. Propane can be stored up for quite a while. You just need to make sure that it is stored in the right containers.
You can be confused about seeing an expiry date on the container of propane. You may also see it on its gauge.
This expiry date is actually the approximate date of inspection of the container. It reminds you that by this date, you must send it for inspection so that the container does not lose its durability.
This is the reason behind using propane as fuel for emergency generators.
The lifespan of a propane tank
We had discussed earlier that only the propane tank expires and not the actual gas. So, how long do you think a propane tank can be stored? Guess what? If the tank is stored and maintained in a proper place, then it can last for 10 to 30 years or more.
You must keep in mind that large propane tanks need to be recertified after ten years since the date of manufacturing.
This recertification is an essential process as, during this process, the tank is thoroughly checked and inspected for signs of rust formation and, most importantly, whether there is the presence of any leaks or not.
On using a rusted tank, the container will be degraded and lead to the formation of holes. The formation of holes will lead to leakage of the gas.
How to store propane safely?
You can store your propane containers or tanks safely in the following ways:
1. The ideal place for storing your propane containers is in a cool and dry place. Low temperatures and dry places prevent the formation of rust on these containers.
The temperature for storing your propane containers should be below 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Storing propane containers inside your home is highly dangerous, especially if you stay in a hot and humid place. High temperatures and humidity are ideal conditions for the formation of rust that can lead to gas leaks.
3. You must always keep your containers upright and not upside or side down.
4. During winters, when keeping your containers outside, remember to cover the container in a plastic sheet to stop the ice from coming in direct contact with your containers.
5. You should always keep your containers in a shaded, cool, and ventilated place.
Is propane a better fuel than diesel and gasoline?
Diesel expires if it is kept for a long time. You can add additives to increase the shelf life of diesel to a maximum of 3 years.
Gasoline, too, has a minimal shelf life as compared to propane. It can last a maximum of 15 months if additives are used.
Let’s dive into the pros and cons of using diesel, gasoline, and propane as fuel.
Pros and cons of using Diesel
The following are the advantages of using diesel:
1. Diesel provides more torque in diesel engines. Torque is a force that defines the rotational force of an engine and also measures the amount of force available when the engine exerts itself.
2. It provides a great amount of gas mileage for vehicles powered by diesel. Gas mileage is the amount of fuel burnt in powering the vehicle per mile.
Now that we’ve learned all the advantages of using diesel, let’s take a look at its disadvantages as well:
1. Diesel is a lot more expensive than propane.
2. During the combustion of diesel, it releases more harmful toxins than propane.
3. For diesel engines to operate efficiently, they regularly require maintenance.
4. Diesel engines get contaminated because of carbon deposits released.
Pros and Cons of using Gasoline
The advantages of using gasoline as a fuel are:
1. Vehicles running on gasoline have a quick start. Gasoline-powered vehicles have a quick start even in freezing weather.
2. As it gives a quick start, less voltage is drawn from the battery when compared to diesel-powered vehicles.
3. Therefore, the exertion on the battery is less in the case of gasoline.
4. Gasoline engines are lighter in weight as compared to diesel engines.
The disadvantages of using gasoline as a fuel are as follows:
1. The amount of fuel consumed by gasoline-powered vehicles is much higher than diesel vehicles.
2. Gasoline is highly flammable and volatile. Due to its high volatility, it can catch fire easily if there is any electric spark due to electrical faults.
Pros and Cons of Using Propane
1. Now, we’ll be discussing the advantages of using propane as a fuel:
2. Propane is a readily available fuel. It can be available even in times of crisis, such as ice storms.
3. Propane has a much longer shelf life. It is because the shelf life of propane is indefinite. After all, it does not degrade.
4. It is ranked among the cleanest burning fuels as it releases a low amount of toxic emissions as compared to diesel and gasoline.
5. Propane is a lot cheaper and safer to use than the other two fuels. Using it in your homes is, therefore, both easy and affordable.
Propane has very few disadvantages of using as a fuel. But these disadvantages can be very deadly. Take a look:
1. It is a highly flammable substance. It can be fatal if LPG leaks occur in or around your house.
2. The conversion of fuel source from the current one to propane can be costly. For instance, in order to convert a diesel/gasoline vehicle convert to an LPG vehicle, the LPG tank has to be placed in your car trunk.
It takes up a lot of space in your car trunk and doesn’t allow you to keep a spare wheel.
After learning the pros and cons of using gasoline, diesel, and propane, we can analyze that propane is the best fuel in terms of keeping nature clean and safe.
Propane is a fuel that produces very few greenhouse gases. The exhaust of propane is colorless and almost odorless. It makes propane ideal for places with a low air quality index.
Fun fact: Did you know that a propane engine is much quieter than diesel and gasoline engines?
Why isn’t propane used as a fuel for vehicles?
All around you, it is mostly observed that vehicles usually run on either diesel or petrol. You might be thinking that even after having so many advantages, why isn’t propane used widely in vehicles? You know propane has been used as a vehicle fuel since 1912.
Today, it is the third most used fuel, after diesel and gasoline.
Propane is not used widely in vehicles because handling it is more difficult than gasoline and diesel. Moreover, it also contains only 85 percent of the total energy content.
Today it is mostly used in your homes for heating, cooking, and grilling purposes. Additionally, it is also used for laundry dryers, water heaters, backyard barbecues, and portable stoves.
With advancements in technology, propane is beginning its use in medium, heavy-duty, and fleet vehicles, like garbage trucks, police cars, city buses, and emergency vehicles.
In this article, we have learned about the important functions of propane in our environment as well as our lives. Propane is indeed one of the safest fuels available. Moreover, it can also keep its properties intact and work with full efficiency indefinitely. All you need to keep in mind is the date of inspection of your propane containers.
As our Earth depletes day by day because of our actions, using propane as a fuel alternative can be your step towards sustainability.