LPG is a naturally occurring co-product of natural gas extraction (60%) and crude oil refining (40%). It is therefore either used or it is wasted. It is a combination of propane and butane molecules, along with trace amounts of other compounds.
LPG is colourless and odourless and a strong “stenching” agent is added so that even a very small leak can be easily detected. At a normal temperature, LPG is a gas. When subjected to modest pressure or cooling, it transforms into a liquid. As a liquid, it is easy to transport and store. Once it has been cooled or pressurised, LPG is usually stored in containers made of either steel or aluminium.
There are more than 1000 applications of LPG. It is used in commercial business, in industry, transportation, farming, power generation, cooking, heating and for recreational purposes. LPG is used throughout the home, as a gas to cook with, a source of fuel for central heating and hot water. LPG is also commonly used in the agricultural sector and as a lower emission automotive transportation fuel.
LPG has two origins: 60% is recovered during the extraction of natural gas and oil from the earth, and the remaining 40% is produced during the refining of crude oil. LPG is thus a naturally occurring co-product. In the past LPG was destroyed through venting or flaring (i.e. the burning off of unwanted gas), In the past LPG was destroyed through venting or flaring (i.e. the burning off of unwanted gas), wasting the full potential of this exceptional energy source.
LPG can be transported virtually anywhere, either in cylinders or bulk tank. It can be transported using sea, rail or road transport. LPG does not use piped networks, reducing vulnerability to supply disruption. Trucks transport butane and propane cylinders from the bottling plant to retailers, as well as to private and professional customers. Meanwhile, small bulk trucks distribute LPG from the storage centres to various consumers.
LPG is an exceptional energy source due to its origin, benefits, applications and its industry. As a clean, lower carbon, efficient and innovative energy it offers benefits to consumers, industry and the environment. LPG is a clean-burning, sustainable and efficient fuel and a vital source of energy for hundreds of millions of people throughout the world today. It is a multi-purpose energy with literally thousands of applications. It is portable, can be transported, stored and used virtually anywhere in the world and there are sufficient reserves to last for many decades. LPG also shows lower greenhouse gas emissions than petrol, diesel, and electricity, on an energy-equivalent basis.
LPG contributes to improvement of the wellbeing of whole communities. It has no hidden social impact. On the contrary, for developing rural communities LPG can provide a first modern alternative to traditional cooking fuels (e.g. firewood, charcoal, dung), contributing to a better quality of life and importantly, liberating women and children from time spent collecting fuel, thus enabling them to pursue education or value-added economic activities within the community.
Furthermore, exposure to a mixture of particles and toxic chemicals, generated when wood or other biomass material is used for indoor cooking, is responsible for widespread sickness and greatly reduced life expectancy for many people living in poorer communities (1). With its intrinsically clean burning characteristics, LPG offers a practical avenue towards cleaning up the air we breathe.
LPG also helps to reduce Black Carbon and Particular Matter emissions which not only compromises both outdoor and indoor air quality but can cause serious health problems. According to the World Health Organization, air pollution with Particular Matter claims an average 8.6 months from the life of every person in the EU.
(1) LP GAS: Healthy Energy for a changing world, World LPG Association, April 2009, LP_Gas_Healthy_Energy_for_a_Changing_World.pdf
LPG is an energy-rich fuel source with a higher calorific value per unit than other commonly used fuels, including coal, natural gas, diesel, petrol, fuel oils, and biomass-derived alcohols.
LPG generates fewer carbon emissions than gasoline (petrol) and has similar emissions to diesel. Therefore it can make a positive contribution to air quality improvement compared to diesel, heating oil and solid fuels.
LPG is immediately available anywhere and supports the use of renewable technologies.
LPG contributes to the security of supply as it has substantial reserves due its dual origins, is not contingent on the availability of any one source and is supplied from all over the world through a flexible transport infrastructure.
LPG is one of the cleanest conventional fuels available. It is non-toxic and has no impact on soil, water and underground aquifers. It also helps to improve the quality of indoor and outdoor air, as it produces substantially less particulate matter and NOX than diesel, oil, wood or coal.
How can LPG contribute to fighting climate change?
From a global warming perspective, fuel selection can play a significant role in reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. For many applications, including transport, cooking, heating, industrial processes and local power generation there is a major role in small and medium scale applications for alternative low carbon fuels, such as LPG, which have a smaller carbon footprint than traditional fuels.
Studies consistently demonstrate that LPG generates fewer carbon emissions than gasoline (petrol) and broadly equivalent emissions to diesel.
In addition, the carbon footprint of LPG is 20% lower than that of fuel oil and 50% lower than coal.
LPG therefore helps to reduce CO2 emissions.
LPG also helps to reduce Black Carbon (BC) emissions, which are the second biggest contributor of global warming and which can cause serious health problems.
As LPG can be used alongside renewable technologies, it serves as a clean energy source which is not dependent on weather or daylight, providing uninterrupted, clean and secure energy supply.
LPG is an energy-rich fuel source with a higher calorific value per unit than other commonly used fuels, including coal, natural gas, diesel, petrol, fuel oils, and biomass-derived alcohols. This means that an LPG flame burns hotter, an advantage that can translate into higher efficiency.
LPG was also found to have higher efficiency than natural gas fuelled distributed power generation which makes it ideal for rural homes and businesses. As a cost-effective energy source, LPG can be up to five times more efficient than traditional fuels, resulting in less energy wastage and better use of our planet’s resources.
LPG is extremely versatile and portable. It can be transported using sea, rail or road transport. LPG is available in a wide variety of packaging and storage options and is available in even the remotest of areas.
As one of the cleanest conventional fuels available, LPG complements renewable energy sources and technologies which depend on the weather or daylight. LPG also enables decentraliszed generation through small self-containing generators and micro combined heat and power.