Liquefied Petroleum Gas - LPG

What is Liquefied Petroleum Gas - LPG?

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), which is also known as LP gas, is any of multiple liquid mixtures of the volatile hydrocarbons propane, propene, butane, and butene. It was used from the early 1860s as a portable fuel source, and the production and consumption of this gas for both industrial and domestic use have expanded ever since. A typical commercial mixture can also contain ethylene and ethane, and a volatile mercaptan as well, which is an odorant added as a safety precaution.

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About LPG

Liquefied petroleum gas - LPG is recovered from the “wet” natural gas (the gas with the compounds of condensable heavy petroleum) by absorption. The recovered product has a low boiling point and should be distilled to remove the lighter fractions, and then it is treated to remove carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and water. The resultant product can be transported by pipeline and by building seagoing tankers, especially. Transportation by rail, barge, and truck has also developed, specifically in the United States.

LPG reaches the domestic consumers in cylinders at relatively low pressures. The largest part of the LPG, which is produced, can be used in the central heating systems, and the next largest one as a raw material for chemical plants. Commonly, LPG can be used as fuel for gas cooktops and ovens, gas barbecue grills, portable heaters, and gas fireplaces. LPG water heaters are common in Europe. It is also used as backup generators and engine fuel. Unlike diesel, LPG is stored nearly indefinitely without any degradation.


Global Production

In 2015, the Global LPG production reached over 292 million metric tons per year, while global LPG consumption rose to around 284 mn t per year. 62% of the LPG is extracted from the natural gas, where the rest can be produced by the petrochemical refineries from crude oil. 44% of global consumption is present in the domestic sector. The leading producer and exporter of LPG are the USA.


Security of Supply

Due to the oil-refining and natural gas industry, Europe is considered as almost self-sufficient in LPG. The security of supply in Europe is further safeguarded by:

  • a wide range of sources, which are both inside and outside of Europe;

  • a flexible supply chain through rail, road, and water with a number of routes and entry points into Europe

As per 2010–12 estimates, the proven world reserves of the natural gas, from which the major amount of LPG is derived, stand at 300 trillion cubic meters (which is 10,600 trillion cubic feet). Added to the LPG, which is derived from the cracking crude oil, these amounts subject to a major energy source which is untapped virtually and has massive potential. The production continues to grow at an average rate of 2.2%, annually, and virtually assuring that there is no demand outstripping supply risk in the foreseeable future.


Comparison with Natural Gas

LPG-based SNG can be used in the emergency backup systems for several industrial, public, and military installations and several other utilities use LPG peak shaving plants in times of high demand to make up shortages in the natural gas, which is supplied to their distributed systems. LPG-SNG installations can also be used during the initial gas system introductions when the distribution infrastructure present in the place before gas supplies are connected. Developing Indian and China markets (among others) use LPG-SNG systems to build up the customer bases before expanding the existing natural gas systems.

Natural gas or the LPG-based SNG with localised storage and the piping distribution network to the households for catering to every cluster of 5000 domestic consumers is planned under the first phase of the city gas network system. This would eliminate the last mile of LPG cylinders road transport, which is a cause of safety and traffic hurdles in the Indian cities. However, these localised natural gas networks are operating successfully in Japan with the feasibility to get connected to a wider network in both cities and villages.


Environmental Effects

Let us discuss the Environmental effects of LPG.

Commercially available Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), is currently derived primarily from fossil fuels. Also, LPG burning releases carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas. The reaction also forms some carbon monoxide. However, LPG does release less CO2 per unit of energy compared to oil or coal, but more than the natural gas. It emits 81% of the CO2 per kWh formed by oil, 70% to that of coal, and less than 50% of that, emitted by the coal-generated electricity distributed through the grid. Being a mix of butane and propane, LPG emits less amount of carbon per joule compared to the butane, but more carbon per joule compared to propane.

LPG also burns more cleanly compared to the higher molecular weight hydrocarbons, since it releases fewer particulates.


FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Give the uses of Liquified Petroleum Gas?

LPG has a very wide variety of uses. Liquefied petroleum gas can be used mainly for cylinders across many different markets as an efficient fuel container in the agricultural, recreation, hospitality, industrial, construction, sailing and fishing sectors. It can serve as fuel for cooking, central heating and water heating and is a particularly cost-effective and efficient way to heat off-grid homes.

2. Explain the explosion risk and mitigation of LPG?

In a gas plant or refinery, LPG should be stored in pressure vessels. These containers are either spherical or cylindrical. Typically, these vessels are designed and manufactured to the code. This code is governed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in the United States.


LPG containers hold pressure relief valves, such that when subjected to the exterior heating sources, they will vent these LPG to the flare stack or atmosphere.

3. Explain the cooking use of LPG?

LPG can also be used for cooking in several countries for convenience, for economic reasons or because it is the primary preferred fuel source.


In India, about 8.9 million tons of LPG were consumed in 6 months between April and September 2016 as per the domestic sector records, mainly for cooking. The domestic connection count is 215 million (it means, one connection, applied for every six people) with the circulation of more than 350 million LPG cylinders. Most of the requirements are imported. In India, piped city gas supply is yet to be developed on a major scale. Also, LPG is subsidised by the Indian government with a very little offering for domestic users. LPG price increase has been a politically sensitive matter in India because it potentially affects the pattern of middle-class voters.

4. Give the full form of LPG?

LPG stands for Liquefied Petroleum Gas.