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Government Resources: Environment, Climate, Geology, Energy, Animals and Ecology: Propane

Propane

What is Propane?

Also known as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or autogas, propane is a clean-burning, high-energy alternative fuel that's been used for decades to power light-, medium- and heavy-duty propane vehicles.

Propane is a three-carbon alkane gas (C3H8). It is stored under pressure inside a tank and is a colorless, odorless liquid. As pressure is released, the liquid propane vaporizes and turns into gas that is used for combustion. An odorant, ethyl mercaptan, is added for leak detection. (See fuel properties.)

Propane has a high octane rating and excellent properties for spark-ignited internal combustion engines. It is non-toxic and presents no threat to soil, surface water, or groundwater. Propane is produced as a by-product of natural gas processing and crude oil refining. It accounts for about 2% of the energy used in the United States. Of that, less than 2% is used for transportation fuel. Its main uses include home and water heating, cooking and refrigerating food, clothes drying, powering farm and industrial equipment. Rural areas without natural gas service commonly rely on propane as a residential energy source. The chemical industry uses propane as a raw material for making plastics and other compounds. Source: Alternative Fuels Data Center

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