Liquefied petroleum gas or liquid petroleum gas (LPG or LP gas), is a flammable mixture of hydrocarbon gases used as fuel in heating appliances, cooking equipment, and vehicles.
LPG has a very wide variety of uses, mainly used for cylinders across many different markets as an efficient fuel container in the agricultural, recreation, hospitality, industrial, construction, sailing and fishing sectors. It can serve as fuel for cooking, central heating and to water heating and is a particularly cost-effective and efficient way to heat off-grid homes.
In India, nearly 8.9 million tons of LPG was consumed in the six months between April and September 2016 in the domestic sector, mainly for cooking. The number of domestic connections are 215 million (i.e., one connection for every six people) with a circulation of more than 350 million LPG cylinders. Most of the LPG requirement is imported. Piped city gas supply in India is not yet developed on major scale. LPG is subsidised by the Indian government for domestic users. Increase in LPG prices has been a politically sensitive matter in India as it potentially affects the middle class voting pattern.
LPG can be used as a power source for combined heat and power technologies (CHP). CHP is the process of generating both electrical power and useful heat from a single fuel source. This technology has allowed LPG to be used not just as fuel for heating and cooking, but also for decentralized generation of electricity.
When LPG is used to fuel internal combustion engines, it is often referred to as autogas or auto propane. In some countries, it has been used since the 1940s as a petrol alternative for spark ignition engines. In some countries, there are additives in the liquid that extend engine life and the ratio of butane to propane is kept quite precise in fuel LPG. Two recent studies have examined LPG-fuel-oil fuel mixes and found that smoke emissions and fuel consumption are reduced but hydrocarbon emissions are increased. The studies were split on CO emissions, with one finding significant increases, and the other finding slight increases at low engine load but a considerable decrease at high engine load. Its advantage is that it is non-toxic, non-corrosive and free of tetraethyllead or any additives, and has a high octane rating (102–108 RON depending on local specifications). It burns more cleanly than petrol or fuel-oil and is especially free of the particulates present in the latter.
Not all automobile engines are suitable for use with LPG as a fuel. LPG provides less upper cylinder lubrication than petrol or diesel, so LPG-fueled engines are more prone to valve wear if they are not suitably modified. Many modern common rail diesel engines respond well to LPG use as a supplementary fuel. This is where LPG is used as fuel as well as diesel. Systems are now available that integrate with OEM engine management systems.
Vendors and advocates of hydrocarbon refrigerants argue against such bans on the grounds that there have been very few such incidents relative to the number of vehicle air conditioning systems filled with hydrocarbons. One particular test, conducted by a professor at the University of New South Wales, unintentionally tested the worst-case scenario of a sudden and complete refrigerant expulsion into the passenger compartment followed by subsequent ignition. He and several others in the car sustained minor burns to their face, ears, and hands, and several observers received lacerations from the burst glass of the front passenger window. No one was seriously injured.
LPG-based SNG is used in emergency backup systems for many public, industrial and military installations, and many utilities use LPG peak shaving plants in times of high demand to make up shortages in natural gas supplied to their distributions systems. LPG-SNG installations are also used during initial gas system introductions, when the distribution infrastructure is in place before gas supplies can be connected. Developing markets in India and China (among others) use LPG-SNG systems to build up customer bases prior to expanding existing natural gas systems.
In a refinery or gas plant, LPG must be stored in pressure vessels. These containers are either cylindrical and horizontal or spherical. Typically, these vessels are designed and manufactured according to some code. In the United States, this code is governed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).