LPG is made up of propane and/or butane. The domestic LPG available in Australia is nearly always composed solely of propane. It is a different chemical compound to natural gas, even though they are both classed as hydrocarbons.
In its natural state, LPG is an odourless and colourless gas. To make it easy to detect any leaks, an odourant is added. So when you “smell gas”, you actually smell the added odourant.
LPG that’s been stored as a liquid expands when the temperature increases. To ensure that LPG is stored safely, there are Australian Standards which set guidelines around the maximum fill levels of bottles and cylinders. This allows the gas to safely expand and contract by using the spare space in the container.
LPG is produced during oil refining or is extracted during the natural gas production process. Instead of destroying or burning off this byproduct, the LPG is captured and used as fuel source on its own.
LPG is transported from production sites and refineries to large storage terminals by LPG tankers or carriers, where it is stored in bulk tanks. These large storage terminals are often situated on seaboards or ports to make it easier to receive LPG deliveries.
The LPG is then delivered by train or road tanker to cylinder-filling sites and smaller-sized storage terminals where it is bottled in pressurised containers. From there, the containers can be loaded onto trucks to deliver to the end user, or small bulk tankers can be filled for gas top ups at the end user’s property.
It’s this unique ability to store and transport LPG that makes it a handy alternative for people without access to natural gas networks.