What Is Propane Made Of?

Written on: October 24, 2022

Learn more about this versatile, efficient fuel

propane 101 maine Propane is a versatile and energy-efficient fuel source that offers many advantages and amenities for Central Maine homes.

Want to learn more about propane? We have gathered some information to help expand your understanding.

What is propane?

Propane’s full name is liquified petroleum gas (LPG). The chemical formula for propane is C₃H₈.

Edmund Ronalds, a British academic and industrial chemist, discovered propane in 1864 while researching chemicals in light crude oil from Pennsylvania. In 1910, Walter O. Snelling took the next big step in propane’s development. At the time, Snelling worked for the United States Bureau of Mines based in Pittsburgh where he conducted research on gasoline evaporation and storage methods. Through his study, he discovered that specific evaporating gases could be transformed into liquids. Out of all the gases examined, Snelling discovered that propane was the most bountiful. He then devised a way to bottle liquid gas, which gave birth to the propane industry.

In three years, Snelling sold his propane patent to Frank Philips, founder of Philips Petroleum, for $50,000. That would be about $1.4 million in today’s money.

If you’ve ever smelled rotten eggs, then you know what ethyl mercaptan smells like. This is the most common odorant used to make propane detectable, since propane by itself is nearly odorless. This scent helps people identify propane leaks. If you notice that rotten-egg smell in your home, immediately follow propane safety best practices and evacuate. Get to a safe location, then call 911 and AFC.

Where does propane come from?

About 70% of propane in the United States and Canada comes from natural gas processing, and the recent growth in shale gas production has helped to meet demands. Propane can also be refined from crude oil.
When natural gas is processed, it produces liquid components like propane, butane, methane, and ethane. Propane is then distributed through pipelines, tankers, ships, trains, and trucks to bulk distribution facilities. The propane is distributed to local vendors, such as AFC, and we reliably and safely deliver it to homes in our Central Maine service area.

You’ll never need to worry about propane again with our Automatic Delivery. We use your propane usage history along with current weather conditions to let our state-of-the-art software accurately predict when you’ll need more propane. With that data, we make a propane delivery to you before you run low.

Propane: An environmentally friendly choice

Propane is a clean-burning, efficient energy source that was selected as alternative energy under both the 1990 Clean Air Act and the 1992 National Energy Policy. Because propane doesn’t contain methane as natural gas does, it isn’t classified as a greenhouse gas. If there ever is a leak, propane won’t pollute the air, soil, or water.

Rather than compromising comfort or convenience in order to decrease your home’s carbon impact, switch to propane! Not only is it cleaner burning, but more energy efficient. In fact, today’s propane heating systems and appliances have efficiency ratings that can reach 95% or higher!

AFC is Central Maine’s leader in dependable propane delivery and quality propane appliance services. Become a customer today!