commercial gas pipework - Oil tank LPG

Liquified Petroleum Gas: What Is It and What Are Its Uses?

LPG (Liquified Petroleum Gas) is a liquid hydrocarbon gas that is used as a fuel source. It may also be used in refrigerators and aerosols to replace more harmful chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The gas is usually supplied as either propane or butane, and is frequently used in domestic heating, barbecues, leisure parks, and several other purposes.

LPG is a natural by-product of oil and gas extraction, and also of oil refining. It has a different chemical composition to natural gas, and is stored in tanks or bottles rather than delivered via pipelines or mains from the source. It’s an efficient and low carbon fuel that is an essential component of the UK’s off-grid energy supply. 

LPG contains a mixture of propane, propylene, butylene, isobutane, and n-butane, but for commercial purposes it is mainly sold as butane or propane mixes, which may contain small quantities of other chemicals. It is a highly flammable gas that should be stored and handled with care. 

The main difference between propane and butane

Propane and butane gas have different uses, which hinge on the lower boiling point of propane of -42°c, compared to -2°c for butane. This difference makes propane more suitable for outdoor use, while butane is more suitable for indoor use. For example, propane is often used for patio heaters, outdoor cooking, and as a fuel source for caravans.

Propane is also widely used for commercial purposes, including as a power source for ovens, industrial tools and machinery, and forklift trucks. It’s a relatively clean-burning and efficient form of fuel that doesn’t contaminate the environment. 

Butane is typically used for indoor purposes, such as cooking appliances and portable indoor heaters. It produces more energy per cubic metre than propane, and could potentially be cheaper than using other fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas. In its natural form butane is a vapour gas, and it requires liquefying in order to be stored for commercial use.

This is achieved by applying a moderate amount of pressure or cooling to the gaseous form.

LPG as a heat source

LPG can be used as a heat source for homes in remote rural areas that cannot be connected to the National Grid. It is stored in bulk storage tanks, canisters, or cylinders,  to supply homes and commercial buildings with a heat source. It can also be used to power air conditioning units and water heaters, and as a fuel for portable heating devices.

LPG can also be combined with air or ground source heat pumps to provide a back up fuel. It will not leak from its storage tank and therefore does not contaminate soil or groundwater. Compared to coal or oil, it has much lower CO2 emissions and therefore is much less harmful to the environment. 

Safety and LPG

LPG is a highly flammable gas that is heavier than air, so it may settle at low areas of a building such as cellars, basements and drains. This is a potential fire hazard and explosion risk. Furthermore, corroding LPG pipework may lead to leaks that could be ignited if exposed to a spark or flame. 

The Health and Safety Executive provides further information about the relevant Codes of Practice around the safe use of LPG for commercial and industrial purposes. The regulations include routine inspections and maintenance of LPG pipework, which should be replaced if it fails to meet certain standards. 

LPG gas installations and maintenance

If you require further information about commercial LPG gas pipework services, please contact UK Commercial Gas. With over 30 years of experience in the industry and a team of qualified and knowledgeable engineers on standby, they offer a range of services relating to commercial gas installations, testing and purging, decommissioning, repairs and more.

You will be provided with a free quotation for the work with nationwide coverage. All types of commercial gas projects can be taken on. Beforehand, a site engineer will typically make a site visit to map out the area or property concerned, and make a plan to meet your requirements based on the most appropriate solutions. 

By using a trusted and reputable company, you will have peace of mind that your gas supply and appliances are efficient, effective, reliable, and comply with safety standards and regulations.

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