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All you need to know about LPG

27 Mar, 2023 | Business LPG, Residential LPG

In this article:

A quick guide on the most important aspects of LPG - where it comes from, how it is manufactured, its uses, what makes it eco-friendly and more.
All about LPG

LPG is an acronym for liquefied petroleum gas and is primarily the flammable hydrocarbon gases propane and butane used as fuel for gas heaters, cookers and vehicles. It is used indoors in homes and outdoors for BBQs, camp stoves and many other applications.

What is it?

There are a number of fuel gases that fall under the LPG products label, including propane, butane (n-butane) and isobutane (i-butane), as well as mixtures of these gases. They are also referred to as natural gas liquids or NGLs.

LP gas is colourless and odourless until an odorant is added for safety reasons. When compressed, it takes liquid form, and when burnt it has a high energy content. It can be conveniently stored and transported and is an excellent fuel for heating, cooking, and many other applications.

What is it made of?

It is made up of carbon and hydrogen atoms forming propane and butane whilst natural gas is made up of lighter methane. Flammable hydrocarbon gases are liquefied through pressurisation and commonly used as fuel. Natural gas is liquefied cryogenically. It is stored in steel vessels ranging from small BBQ gas bottles to larger gas cylinders and tanks.

When used in homes for cooking, heating and hot water it’s called LPG. When used in vehicles it is generally called Autogas. In small portable cylinders, it is sometimes referred to as BBQ gas or camping gas. Commercial heating applications include industrial boilers. Isobutane is the other common LPG gas, used as a refrigerant and for various manufacturing processes.

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Where does it come from?

LPG products are found naturally in combination with other hydrocarbons and fossil fuels, typically crude oil and natural gas. it is produced during natural gas processing and oil refining. When isolated, it can be liquefied through pressurisation and stored in pressure vessels commonly referred to as gas cylinders or gas tanks. Elgas LPG is stored in various ways.

• Small SWAP’n’GO bottles contain LPG used for camp stoves, BBQs, and outdoor heating
• Cylinders ranging from 45kg-210kg for homes and businesses
• Large tanks used for industrial and commercial applications

Refining LPG from oil and gas

A gas/oil mixture is piped out of oil wells and into a gas trap, which separates the stream into crude oil and ‘wet’ gas, which contains LPG and liquefied natural gas. The heavier crude oil sinks to the bottom of the trap and is then pumped into an oil storage tank and transported to refineries. It is one of the refined products derived from crude oil distillation.

Once refined, it is stored as a liquid in gas bottles such as the familiar 45kg cylinders available from Elgas. The natural gas, which is mostly methane, is piped to towns and cities as natural gas for distribution by gas utility companies.

How is it used?

It is used for cooking, heating, hot water, autogas, aerosol propellant, air conditioning refrigerant and backup generator applications. For home use it is typically supplied in 45kg gas bottles.

It has many additional uses for caravans, motorhomes, boats, camping and even hot air balloons. Business, industrial and agricultural uses include processes such as kilns, ovens, steam boilers and forklifts.


LPG liquid turns back into gas vapour at boiling point when you release some of the pressure in the gas bottle by turning on your gas appliance. Vaporisation also makes the gas bottle feel colder than the ambient temperature and even colder when you are using the gas. The gas vapour is held at the top of the bottle and the liquid  is at the bottom.

The level of fill in the gas bottle comes into play when the LPG is being used, as it affects the rate of vaporisation. As a liquefied gas, the pressure inside the cylinder will remain the same from full until the last of the liquid LPG is vapourised, making it a consistent and reliable fuel source.

LPG Chemical formula

There are a number of liquid petroleum gas (LPG gas) chemical formulas. Starting with the lowest carbon chemical formula, the Ethane chemical formula is C2H6. The (propane) chemical formula is C3H8. Butane and Isobutane both have the same chemical formula, C4H10, as isobutane is an isomer of butane. Pentane (n-pentane) chemical formula is C5H12, but is only a gas over 36.1°C. Heavier hydrocarbons (pentanes plus) are liquids or waxy solids.

Eco-friendly clean burning LPG

LPG (propane gas) is an eco-friendly energy choice, as it is a low-carbon, low-sulphur fuel. LPG products result in lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than other energy sources, such as coal-fired electricity. Replacing your electric hot water system with a 6-Star LPG continuous flow hot water system can reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced from your hot water use by about 75%. LPG can help lower greenhouse emissions during the transition to renewable energy sources.

Make the switch to ELGAS

If you are looking for alternative to electricity, ELGAS supply could be the perfect energy source for you. Contact Elgas for LPG for home or  business. Our experts are on hand to answer any questions you have and will help you sort out the most cost-effective and energy-efficient service for your needs.


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