How propane gas is produced
The process of making propane has evolved over the last century. Today, there are two primary ways propane is produced:
Natural gas production
To stop condensation from forming in natural gas pipelines, propane is extracted from liquid compounds as the natural gas is being processed. Butane is also extracted during this processing. Propane, being much denser as a liquid than as a gas, is stored and transported as a liquid in this form of production.
Crude oil refining
There are many things that come from crude oil refining, such as gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, jet fuel and heating oil. Propane does as well. During the stabilization phase of the refining, the heavier hydrocarbons fall to the bottom. But propane, being a lighter hydrocarbon, is at the top and is easily extracted.
Why propane production matters
Because propane is created through the processing of natural gas and crude oil, it is a fuel that is largely a domestic product. Ninety percent of the American propane supply is generated right here in the United States. That abundant, right-at-home supply makes propane a reliable fuel choice year-round for your home and all its potential appliances.
Synthetic Propane and Biopropane
Propane fuel burns more cleanly than gasoline, releasing fewer harmful emissions. Although propane may be a relatively environmentally friendly fuel, it is a fossil fuel and is nonrenewable. Ongoing research is exploring the feasibility of synthesizing or obtaining propane from renewable sources, such as vegetable oil or biomass. Examples of biomass sources are switchgrass, sugarcane and microorganisms. Although the initial production costs may be high, no major modifications to current petroleum-refining processes are required for these new applications and methods. The use of synthetic propane or biopropane should reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the energy independence of the United States.