Where Does Propane Come From?

Propane is a clean-burning, convertible fuel primarily used for producing heat and operating equipment. From ovens to heating systems, just about anything running on electricity can be powered by propane. This fuel is utilized by almost everyone in the United States—in homes, on farms, by business, and in industry.

Millions of homes use propane to meet some of their energy needs. In fact, homes and businesses are the second largest consumers of propane in the U.S. Propane is particularly advantageous to people living in rural areas that don’t have natural gas service, as well as those who reside in mobile homes.

Roughly five million households use propane as their main heating source, and about one-fifth of mobile homes use propane for heating. Propane is also used in homes for air conditioning, heating water, cooking and refrigerating foods, drying clothes, lighting, and fueling fireplaces.

What Is Propane and Where Does It Come From?

According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, “propane is a by-product of natural gas processing and crude oil refining with almost equal amounts of production derived from each of these sources.” In other words, propane is a gas found mixed in natural gas and petroleum deposits that must be separated from natural gas and crude oil when they are processed for their final uses. Propane is considered a fossil fuel because it was formed hundreds of millions of years ago from the remains of tiny sea animals and plants.

Why Is Propane a Valuable Energy Source?

In addition to the fact that it is extremely versatile and can be used for many different applications, we’ve listed below some of the top benefits of propane and why it’s a valuable energy source.

1.     Abundance and availability

You may or may not be surprised to learn that about 90% of the propane used in the United States is produced within our own country, as it’s derived from natural gas and petroleum, both of which are quite abundant in America. This makes propane a plentiful fuel source that can be easily found and transported to any area of the country.

Propane is a clean-burning alternative to gasoline and diesel that can address energy challenges while long-term renewable technologies are developed.

2.     Propane is a clean energy source

Propane has long been recognized as a sustainable form of energy. Its emissions meet the EPA’s clean air standards. In fact, studies have concluded that propane can give off up to 26% fewer greenhouse gases (GHGs) than gasoline, 38% fewer GHGs than furnace fuel oil, and just half the carbon dioxide (CO2) of a charcoal barbecue.

Additionally, propane’s end-use GHG emissions are significantly lower than gasoline, diesel, coal and heating oil.  Plus, since it is released as a gas, propane eliminates the risk of a spill or leak, so it is not damaging to freshwater and saltwater ecosystems, underwater plant or marine life, the soil, air quality, and our drinking water supply.

3.     Energy efficiency

Propane is an efficient fuel that can quickly heat or power countless devices. For example, when it comes to powering a vehicle, propane has a higher octane rating than gasoline, meaning it can be used with a higher engine compression ratio.

4.     Safety

Propane is non-toxic, colorless, and odor-free. However, it is still important to properly use and store propane, even though it’s a safe and reliable energy source for the home or other uses. To promote safety, ethyl mercaptan, a sulfur-based compound, is added to propane so propane leaks can be detected by smell.

5.     Reliability

Many families living off the grid choose propane to fuel their home or vehicle. Families living on the grid can do the same and enjoy a more reliable energy source that will continue working even after the power goes out. Propane tanks can also be stored for emergency use.

As you’ve learned in this post, propane is a green fuel that is considered friendly to the environment before and after combustion. It is known to be one of the cleanest burning fossil fuels and is non-toxic and will not harm water or soil.

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