Information & History

Propane, a common fuel, is a three-carbon gas at standard temperature, but can be stored in liquid form. A by-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining, it is a commonly used fuel. Propane is one of a group of liquefied petroleum gases.

Propane was first noted as a part of gasoline by Walter O. Snelling of the U.S. Bureau of Mines in 1910. On March 31, the New York Times reported on Snelling's work with liquefied gas and that "a steel bottle will carry enough gas to light an ordinary home for three weeks."

It was during this time that Snelling managed to liquefy propane during natural gas refinement.

In the 1920s, propane production was on the rise, with the first year recording 223,000 US gallons in 1922. By 1947, well more than half of all U.S. homes had been furnished with propane or gas stoves.

The "prop-" root found in "propane" and names of other compounds with three-carbon chains was derived from "propionic acid".[]

Where propane comes from

Propane is produced during the separate refinement processes for natural gas processing and petroleum refining. Natural gas processing involves removal of butane, propane, and large amounts of ethane from the raw resource in order to prevent condensation of these volatiles in natural gas pipelines.

Propane supply cannot easily be adjusted for demand fluctuation, because of the by-product nature of propane production, and as a result, 90% of U.S. propane is domestically produced.

In North America, propane is stored in hollowed out salt caverns found at Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta; Mont Belvieu, Texas and Conway, Kansas.