What is propane?
Propane is a flammable three-carbon alkane that has the molecular formula C3H8. It is a nontoxic, colorless, and virtually odorless hydrocarbon (which is a compound consisting carbon and hydrogen). Propane is an easily liquified gas, which means that it is a gas at room temperature, but it can be compressed into liquid at a relatively low pressure.
It is a member of the paraffin series along with methane and ethane. Propane is also referred to as Liquefied petroleum gas, LP-gas, or LPG. It can be produced through natural gas processing and crude oil refining. Propane is categorized as a fossil fuel because it was formed million years ago from the remaining of several sea animals and plants.
Like any other fossil fuel, Propane is a nonrenewable energy source. Propane was not discovered until 1912 when people were finding a way to store gas because one major problem of gasoline is that it evaporates when stored under normal condition. Dr. Walter Snelling discovered that several gasolines that evaporates can be transformed into liquids and can be stored at a relatively low pressure. Propane was the one with the most plentiful evaporating gas. Snelling developed a way to bottle the liquefied gas. Propane started to be commercially used a year after its discovery.
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Why Propane is Used as an Energy Source?
One of the reason that propane is widely used is that propane is environment friendly. It means that using propane may help us reducing the greenhouse emissions, save energy, and also protect our environment. Also, the combustion of propane’s gas did not produce a significant contaminants of acid rain.
There are several reasons why propane is more preferable. They can be seen as listed below.
- cleaner: Using propane gas is cleaner, which means propane combustion is clean and nontoxic.
- Reliable: Propane is a reliable gas, which means propane can works as an alternative energy sources when and where other energy sources can’t work.
- Safe: Propane is a safer energy source because it is produced with a very strict safety regulation.
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Uses of Propane in Industry
Due to its flammable trait, propane is usually used as a fuel. In industrial scale application, propane is used as furnace and water heater that is used in warehouse and manufacturing facilities. It is used because it is reliable for larger building that demands high energy.
Besides used for industrial purpose, there are also many uses of propane. Here’s the uses of Propane in Industry can be seen as listed below.
- Homes or residences: Propane is used in wide variety of appliances in residential use. It is used as furnace (which produced warmer air than electrical furnace), water heater (which used a smaller storage space and way cheaper that the electric water heaters), fireplaces (which is much easier to clean and maintain because it didn’t leave any ash from burnt wood), refrigerators, clothes dryers (which is less likely to burn or discolor fabrics than using the electric dryer), cooktops (which cool down quickly and more cost efficient), and indoor lighting. It can also be used for outdoor purposes as open-fired outdoor grills (for barbeques) and spa heater. Propane can also be used as generators which serves as an alternative electric source when there is a power outage.
- Construction: Due to its portability, propane is used as construction heater.
- Hot air balloon: Propane is also used to fly hot air balloon. The flame that heats up in the hot air balloon is produced by the propane.
- Vehicle fuel: Propane is also used as fuel for several vehicles. Using it as a fuel for vehicle may increases energy security, provides convenience and performance benefits, and improves public health and the environment. Using propane as a fuel is one way that can be used to diversify transportation fuel as it increases the energy security in the process. Although the prices of propane-fueled vehicles may be more expensive that the one using gasoline, the prices of propane fuel itself is cheaper than gasoline. So, even though the prices of propane-fueled vehicles are expensive, you still ended up spending less money because of its cheap fuel price. Potential lower maintenance cost for the vehicle’s engine also make propane a popular choice for fuel. Also, Due to its high-octane rating, propane fuel may increase the performance of the engine and improve the engine’s life span. Using propane-fueled vehicles also means reducing cold-start problem on your vehicles as well. It is possible because propane fuel’s mixture is completely gaseous when it enters the vehicle engine’s combustion system and propane fueled engine does not require an enriched fuel mixture to startup during a cold-weather situation. Compared to other vehicles (which is using gasoline or maybe diesel), propane-fueled vehicles usually produce lower amounts of harmful air pollutants and greenhouse gases. It also depends on the driving cycle and engine calibration of the vehicle.
- Lawn mowers: Propane is used in lawn mowers because it creates lower emissions than gas. Also, it cost less per gallon than gas and it is also more environment friendly.
- Weed control: Propane also serves as flame weed control. It is a more environment friendly alternative to herbicides.
- Grain dryers: Grain dryers that uses propane will create a precise heat which ensures that the grain dries evenly.
- Aerosol propellant
- Manufacture of chemicals: Propane also serves an important role in the manufacture of several other chemicals, such as ethylene and propylene.
- Agricultural purposes: Propane is also commonly used by farmers for agricultural purposes. Propane, in agriculture, is used for waste treatment, crop drying, and weed control in some crops (such as corn, soybeans, cotton, and strawberries).
Indeed, that’s the uses of Propane in Industry field. You may also read about: Effects of Environmental Chemicals to Human Health
Health Risks of Propane
Although propane is very useful and serves for many purposes, it doesn’t mean that propane does not have any health risks. The effects of health risk may vary depending on its level of exposure. The effects of low exposure of propane can be seen as listed below.
- Central nervous system damage
- Lung congestion
- Decreased night vision
- Tunnel vision
- Rapid heartbeat
- Memory loss
- Weight loss
- Skin irritation
A higher lever exposure may lead to more serious effects, such as:
- Cardiac arrest
- Frostbite (skin contact)
- Asphyxiation (which may lead to death due to the lack of oxygen)
Meanwhile, that’s the uses of Propane in Industry field, and in using this chemicals properties, we need to be careful to its harmful compound that can be further health risks.