Have you ever wondered how propane is made and the journey it takes to reach you? Buckle up, because this clean energy is about to embark on an incredible journey to become the fuel you use today.
Where Propane Starts
We start our propane day with a simple yet complex adventure. Most often, it’s harvested as a byproduct of natural gas and oil processing. This might sound scary, especially if you are concerned about the environmental impact these processes have. Good news: propane is a natural byproduct of these processes, and using this fuel is essential to ensure the production minimizes waste as much as possible. But It won’t be reliant on this process for long. Renewable propane is making great strides and will be more accessible in the near future (more information on that below).
Where Propane Goes
We are one of the largest independently owned propane providers in California. This is due in part to our wholesale department, which plays a big role in acquiring and distributing the fuel. It usually comes from refineries. You can find them all over the country and beyond. While the majority of propane used in the United States is produced domestically, it can also be imported and is frequently done imported from Canada. Because it sometimes has to travel great distances to reach us, we utilize pipeline systems and railcars to transport it. The industry uses these methods frequently. They are a great way to cut down on emissions.
Our central hubs for these large deliveries are in Rosamond and Santa Maria. We then fill up huge transports that shuttle the propane to each branch location. They can hold up to 11,600 gallons, but due to safety regulations we only fill them up to 80% (around 9,280 gallons). That’s still a lot of fuel, and our locations store even more. We have extensive storage at each branch to ensure there’s always enough for our customers.
Next up is the really fun part, delivery to our customers! We provide propane for residential, commercial, and agricultural needs. Deliveries are made with the help of bobtails. These vehicles feature special hoses and pressure systems that allow the vehicle to pump the propane into your tank safely. One cool thing about ours? Some even run on propane themselves!
What Propane Is
Propane is a fuel chameleon; it can be both a gas and a liquid and has a wide range of energy applications. Its natural state is as a gas, but compress it and it becomes a liquid. This is why propane storage, such as your tank, is highly pressurized. With this pressure system, it keeps the propane liquid until the energy is needed to be burned off as a gas. Propane is an element of LPG, or liquefied petroleum gas. LPG is a mixture of hydrocarbon gas liquids that includes propane.
Propane, in its natural state, is completely odorless. The stinky smell it’s known for is added in. This is a security feature. Since you can’t see the vapor, you’ll smell it in the case of a leak. Since propane can create CO2, a leak can be very dangerous. By adding the odorant, you can become aware of leaks and alert your provider and safety responders as quickly as possible.
Who Discovered Propane
While the chemical makeup of propane has been around for a very long time, it wasn’t harnessed as a fuel source until 1902. Hydrocarbon gas (HGL) was discovered inside gasoline by Dr. Walter Snelling. There are multiple HGLs, propane is one of them. Dr. Snelling was able to extract and use HGLs. He found that by cooling and pressurizing the gas, he could change it into a liquid. Once in liquid form, they could be easily transported using pressurized containers. It’s come a long way since then and is now used for everything from heating water to powering homes.
The future is looking bright with renewable propane starting to be used across the country. This fuel is one of the cleanest, low-emission green energy options coming to the market today. It can be processed from a feedstock, such as cooking oil, and processed into propane. The more green development cycle is a huge bonus, and there’s something even cooler about it. Renewable propane is identical to the regular version on a molecular level. This is important since it means both can be used interchangeably and even mixed together without issue.
The only drawback? While the industry is rightly excited about these fantastic developments, the infrastructure is still in its early days. There are only a limited number of producers creating renewable propane. But it’s growing, and WPGA has committed to 100% renewable propane in California by 2030. As production ramps up, we expect to see renewable propane quickly grow in popularity and become easier to find.
What Comes Next
The future of propane is whatever you want. The amazing thing about it is how many uses it has. From cooking to vehicle fuel, this provides the power you need. It’s useful for many appliances, but the future of propane is still growing. We’ve seen the applications for it grow to accommodate the greater demand and development of this versatile fuel. Call us today to learn more about what propane can do for you.