What Can Propane Do?

What is Propane?

Propane — sometimes known as liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG — is a gas normally compressed and stored as a liquid. It is nontoxic, colorless, and odorless; an identifying odor is added so it can be detected. Propane is most commonly used for space and water heating, for cooking, and as fuel for engine applications such as forklifts; however, its applications are rapidly growing due to new technology developments. When used as vehicle fuel, propane is known as propane autogas.

Where Does Propane Come From?

Propane is primarily a byproduct of domestic natural gas processing, though some propane is produced from crude oil refining and from renewable sources. U.S. propane supplies are becoming increasingly abundant due in large part to increased supplies of natural gas.

  • Propane production in the U.S. has increased markedly with the increases in shale gas and associated gas production from U.S. tight oil plays. Increased oil production from new tight oil plays has increased the volumes of propane produced from domestically sourced crude oil.
  • The U.S. became a net exporter of propane in 2011.
  • Renewable propane, made along with other liquid fuels from animal fats and vegetable oils, offers the same clean, efficient, reliable performance as conventional propane. Worldwide production capacity of renewable propane at 15 processing plants, including three in the United States, is about 100 million gallons a year and growing, according to a World LP Gas Association estimate.
  • The National Renewable Energy Laboratory says the potential demand for renewable propane in California alone could surpass 200 million gallons a year by 2030.


Propane is used in 12 million households as well as many businesses for heat, water heating, indoor cooking, clothes drying, and backup power. Tens of millions more use it for outdoor cooking. Additionally, many industries increasingly choose propane to fuel vehicles and equipment which is cost-effective while lowering emissions.