Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is a versatile fuel that is used for a number of applications, both domestic and commercial. Domestic heating is the most common, with many households using a domestic heater that is fuelled by LPG. There are two main types of LPG, propane, which gives a cleaner burn, and is therefore more suited to domestic heating, and a mixture of propane and butane, which is commonly referred to as autogas. The latter is commonly used to fuel combustion engines.
Heating and cooking fuel
LPG is mainly used for heating in areas where there is no piped system of natural gas, or as a preferred fuel to electric heating, or heating oil. There is a wide range of LPG gas bottles, ranging from the BBQ range, which starts at 4.5kg, up to the biggest, which has a capacity of 210kg. The smaller range of BBQ sizes are suitable for outdoor cooking, especailly while camping, whereas the 45kg size is the most common for domestic heating, followed by the 90kg size. Most users will keep two bottles so they have a continuous supply of LPG, and refill when the first one is empty. Many restaurants use LPG in preference to electric cookers, as the temperature is much easier to control with LPG, not to mention the cheaper cost.
Bulk LPG tanks
There are also bulk tanks that can store larger amounts of LPG, and regular LPG bottles can be safely refilled with this method. This has an added advantage of cutting down the number of deliveries, which is important for those who live in remote areas, and also for commercial operations that use large amounts of LPG.
Some of the applications for bulk tank use are,
- Commercial heating
- Domestic purposes
- Indoor heating
- Industrial applications
- Outdoor heating
- Spray booths
Fuel for transport
LPG is used as a fuel for some forms of transport, fork-lift trucks being the most common. Although fork-lifts can run on autogas, a mixture of propane and butane, the higher octane, propane LPG gives a marginally better performance.
LPG for agriculture
There are many uses for LPG in the agriculture industry. Some typical applications include,
- Space heating for poultry sheds, greenhouses and nurseries
- Cost effective power generators
- Flame weeding and pest control
- Handling and processing of food products
- CO² generation for plant growth stimulation
- As a substitute for diesel fuel
- Hot water for sanitation
LPG is also used extensively for grain, cotton and tobacco drying, making it one of the most popular fuels used in agriculture today.
LPG storage and delivery systems
All suppliers of LPG will add a smell to the gas to help people detect the gas in the event of a leak. This smell resembles rotten eggs, so it cannot really be mistaken for anything else. LPG is highly flammable, so if you smell gas, you should switch off the appliance immediately and contact your supplier.