What is Propane?

Propane gas is a versatile energy form that can be used as a heating and cooking fuel in homes and commercial establishments, as a motor fuel for many types of vehicles, a clean burning industrial and agricultural fuel,or an emergency fuel in disaster areas and situations where electrical service is interrupted.

Characteristics of Propane

Propane is a hydrocarbon, and along with other liquefied petroleum gases, is a component of both natural gas and crude oil.  It is obtained through the refining of crude oil or the processing of natural gas.

Propane is normally transported and stored as a liquid in specially designed containers.  It is important that only those containers approved and prepared for use with propane be used to store and transport propane.

When you buy propane it comes in a liquid state in the tank.  When liquid propane changes from a liquid to a gas, it will increase in volume approximately 270 times.  The liquid boils and changes to a vapor.  This is what you use in your home.  Propane vapor is heavier than air (about 1 1/2 times), yet it still mixes with air quite rapidly.

Propane burns and gives off a relatively large amount of heat, about 92,000 BTU’s per gallon of propane.

Propane is a flammable mixture with air (oxygen), which can be ignited by many different sources.  These include, but are not limited to, open flames, electrical sparks, smoking materials, etc.

Odorization of Propane

Propane in its natural state is both colorless and odorless.  For these reasons and because propane is flammable, a chemical malodorant with a distinctive smell is added to provide a method of detection in the event of a leak.  Ethyl mercaptain is normally used for this purpose since it is chemically stable when mixed with propane and has many of propane’s physical characteristics.  One can be reasonably assured, if ethyl mercaptain’s distinctive odor is detected, propane vapors may also be present.  Some people say the smell is like rotten eggs.  Ask for a “scratch and sniff” pamphlet to identify the smell.

Propane – A Safe Fuel

The storage, use and handling of propane falls under standards adopted by the National Fire Protection Agency and approved by the American Standards Institute.  The Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as the Board of Building Standards, has chosen to adopt these standards as guidelines for proper installation of propane systems.  Local governments may also have additional codes and standards pertaining to propane.

Most accidents involving propane gas are caused by failure to comply with the established mandatory safety standards or improper use and installation of propane equipment.  Revere Gas can advise you on questions concerning safety standards and proper installation of equipment.

The use of smoke/fire detectors are highly recommended.  Carbon monoxide can be a result of any heating source that uses combustion, regardless of the fuel, when it is not operating properly.  The use of carbon monoxide detectors is recommended.