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How Exactly is Propane Made?

Written By: on September 6, 2021

Learn the science behind this versatile, clean-burning energy source!

origin of propane arizonaIf you use propane in your Northern Arizona home, you know about some of the great things propane can do!

However, there are probably things you don’t know about propane as well, including its history and how exactly this fuel source is made. We’ll address some common questions about propane here:

How Was Propane First Discovered?

Propane was first noted by Edmund Ronalds, an English academic and industrial chemist, in 1864 while studying the volatile compounds in Pennsylvania light crude oil.

Walter O. Snelling Ph.D. worked for the U.S. Bureau of Mines, in Pittsburgh. In 1910, he identified propane as a volatile compound in gasoline, and developed a distillation method to create liquid propane gas. From here, the propane industry was effectively born!

Snelling patented propane and later sold that patent in 1913 to Frank Phillips, the founder of Phillips Petroleum, for $50,000. That’s $1.3 million in today’s dollars.

How is Propane Made Today?

Close to 90% of the United States’ propane supply is domestically produced. Virtually all of it comes from natural gas processing. Refrigeration is used to isolate the propane and then separate it from the natural gas.

How Come Propane Smells The Way It Does?

Propane has no color or smell in its natural state. The characteristic “rotten-egg” smell of propane is caused by an odorant, usually ethyl mercaptan, which is added during processing for safety reasons. The strong odor allows for easy detection of propane leaks!

How is Propane Designated as Environmentally Friendly?

Propane is a clean-burning fossil fuel that was named as an alternative energy in the 1990 Clean Air Act and the National Energy Policy of 1992.

Unlike natural gas, propane is not a greenhouse gas. In the rare event of a leak, propane does not harm the air, soil, water, aquatic life, marine life, or plant life. Today’s high-efficiency propane heating systems and other propane appliances have efficiency ratings of 95 percent, or even higher. All these factors combine to reduce your home’s environmental impact—making it cleaner and greener!

Enjoy all the benefits of propane provides! Become a Superior Propane Inc. customer today—serving from Parks to Prescott, Seligman to Winslow, and everywhere in-between, you’ll get reliable, safe, and courteous delivery of propane to your home or business!