Where Does Propane Come From?

Posted: February 26, 2024

A Closer Look at Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG)

In 1910, American chemist Walter O. Snelling conducted research into gasoline evaporation and storage and found that certain evaporating gases could be changed into liquids. Out of all the gases, propane proved to be the most plentiful.

Snelling then created a method to bottle this liquid gas, leading to the creation of the propane industry. Bottle gas, or bottled gas, is a term still being used today for propane, which is formally called Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG).

Over the years, businesses and scientists have worked diligently to make propane the viable fuel source it represents today. The process itself of making propane has evolved over the last century or so. Right now, there are two primary ways propane is produced.

Crude Oil Refining and Propane

Some propane is created during the process of crude oil refining. There are a lot of products that can be derived from crude oil refining, including gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, jet fuel and heating oil—and propane gas as well. During the stabilization phase of the refining, the heavier hydrocarbons fall to the bottom. But propane, being a lighter hydrocarbon, is at the top and it’s easily extracted.

Propane from Natural Gas Production

The process of crude oil refining plays a small role in the production of propane, however. Most propane is derived today from natural gas production. When natural gas is taken out of the earth, it is a mix of different gases. One of these gases is propane.

To stop condensation from forming in natural gas pipelines, propane is extracted from liquid compounds as the natural gas is being processed. Butane is also extracted during this process. Propane, being much denser as a liquid than as a gas, is stored and transported as a liquid in this form of production.

Because propane is created through the processing of natural gas and crude oil, it is a fuel that is largely a domestic product. In fact, about 90% of the American propane supply is generated right here in the United States! That abundant, right-at-home supply makes propane a reliable fuel choice for your Delaware Valley home or business, and all its appliances and equipment, throughout the year.

The Future: a Renewable, Carbon Neutral Process

Homes and businesses all over the U.S., including here in the Delaware Valley, will eventually be able to use renewable propane. Since it is molecularly identical to propane, there will be no need to replace or alter existing propane appliances and equipment. As usage of renewable propane increases, it will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions nationwide, helping fight the effects of climate change.

Renewable propane’s carbon intensity — or the carbon emitted for every unit of energy it produces — is lower than conventional propane because it’s produced from bio-based or renewable sources.

Just as conventional propane is a coproduct of crude oil and natural gas extraction, most renewable propane can be considered a coproduct of biofuel creation. Many of the same feedstocks that go into creating biofuel — animal oils, vegetable oils, biomass — are used to create renewable propane.

While it is not in common use yet, renewable propane gas has positioned itself to be a major part of the clean fuel conversation in the years ahead.

Propane and the Environment

Propane is a clean-burning fuel that was recognized as an alternative fuel in both the 1990 Clean Air Act and the 1992 National Energy Policy. Unlike natural gas, propane does not contain methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In the rare event of a leak, propane has no detrimental impact on the air, soil, water, aquatic life, marine life, or plant life.

Today’s high-efficiency propane heating systems and other propane appliances such as water heaters have high efficiency ratings. That efficiency, along with propane’s clean-burning properties, allows you to reduce your home’s carbon footprint without having to sacrifice comfort or convenience.

The bottom line: propane is one of the safest sources of energy around – not to mention one of the most versatile and efficient ways to power just about any equipment you need to keep your family safe and comfortable in any season.

Propane Delivery in Southeast PA and Beyond

Family-owned and community-focused, Wilson Oil and Propane can help with all your propane needs. We offer competitive prices and would love to share more about how propane would be a great choice for your home, whether you live in Glen Mills, PA or anywhere else in our service area. Reach out today to learn more about propane delivery and our other propane services.