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LPG Through the Ages!

LPG Through the Ages!

This blog we will be exploring how LPG was first discovered and how is progressed throughout the years.

What is LPG?

LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) is a hydrocarbon gas that exists in a liquefied form. LPG is a colourless, low carbon and highly efficient fuel.

There are two main types of LPG Gas, Propane (C3H8) and Butane (C₄H₁₀) and can be used in several ways – BBQ, Heating and many more.

LPG boils at a low temperature and to avoid it evaporating due to its low boiling point, it is typically stored in pressurised steel vessels such as gas bottles.

How LPG was First Discovered!

In America, the mixture of Propane and Butane was first mentioned as early as 1910. An American Chemist, Walter O. Snelling, was researching the properties of Propane, so he separated gaseous fractions from liquid ones, discovering the existence of Propane. In 1912, Walter O. Snelling started his first domestic propane installation, then in 1913, he patented producing propane on an industrial scale. Later in 1913, the patent was bough by Frank Philips, the founder of the ConocoPhilips oil company. The consumption of LPG did not grow considerably.

Practical use of LPG dates to 1918, when the fuel was utilised for brazing lamps and metal cutting blowtorches, however commercial production did not begin until the 1920’s, when LPG sales topped 223 thousand gallons in the US and 3 years following the figures grew to 400 thousand gallons.

In 1928, LPG was first used as a motor fuel and the first LPG refrigerator was made. By 1929, the level of fuel sales was as much as 10 million gallons in the US.

LPG was used for cooking and water heating during the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, in 1932. The LPG industry was growing stronger by the year, managing to produce and sell 56 million gallons in 1934.

The demand for LPG was further boosted by the popularity of airships, regularly traveling between Europe and the US.

LPG first appeared in Europe when it was imported from the USA and introduces in France in mid-1930’s.

LPG During the Second World War

As we all know, there was shortages during both World Wars, however in the Second World War there was a shortage of Petrol, to our surprise, LPG was first used as a motor fuel.

The Zeppelin series airships were propelled by engines fuelled with the so called Blau Gas, which is very much like Butane – one of LPG’S ingredients. Using this fuel and roughly the same mass as air was very convenient for airships as it did not alter a Zeppelin’s overall weight, unlike liquid fuels. Unfortunately, when the Hindenburg was in a disaster in 1937, the Zeppelin era ended abruptly.

Luckily, the LPG era did not end with this disaster, it bloomed as there were large numbers of gas bottled left in airfields where airships operated from. This led to the gas bottles being bought by entrepreneur Ernesto Igel to the idea of promoting the gas as an excellent cooking fuel. This is how the Brazilian company later known as Ultragaz came to be. The company had three distribution trucks and 166 customers by 1939.

In the 1938, the Italian company Liquigas started filling bottles with LPG in a facility near Venice. The politics and current events seemed a little hectic in 1941 during LPG’S inaugural year. World War II impacted supplies and demands worldwide. These needs influenced the propane and fuel industries, as those industries needed to produce the fuels to aid with increased business.

LPG After the World War

When the Second World War was over and industrial productions rose again, LPG sales in the USA topped 1 billon gallons.

The first liquefied gas tanker was built and enter service in 1947. In 1950, the public transport operator from Chicago, ordered 1000 LPG powered buses and 270 taxis were converted in Milwaukee in the same year.

By 1950, Ultragaz, the Brazilian company who promoted the gas bottles for cooking fuel, had over 70 thousand customers and is one of the biggest LPG operators in the world to this day.

In 1958, LPG sales reached 7 billion gallons and in 1965 Chevrolet introduced 4 new LPG powered engines for commercial vehicles. The initial international export contracts were not made until the 1950’s. The amount of exported LPG was still low in the 1960’s, with 1 million tons being shipped outside the US. Export had grown to 17 million tons in 20 years and by the year 2000, the amount reached 48 million tons.

In 2021, LPG is used on almost everything, standard cars are getting converted into LPG Cars. During the difficult time with Covid-19, we have been at home a lot more then usual, so you may have bought a BBQ, Patio Heater or even world with LPG. It is every where we go, you’ll find them in the backs of pub/bars, restaurants, catering vans and many more.