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Difference Between Natural Gas and Propane

Natural gas vs Propane

Two of the most popular types of fuel are natural gas and propane. Both gases share similar characteristics but are also different from each other.

Both natural gas and propane are used as alternative fuels for many applications like residential use (cooking, heating, and drying) and for vehicles. As gases, both can dissipate into the air in different durations of time. In addition, they are odorless and tasteless in their pure form. This makes them dangerous in situations of leakage since they can cause explosions with a source of ignition and high concentrations. They can also cause a lack of oxygen when leaking into an enclosed space.

Since both gases are odorless but are highly volatile and explosive, they are treated to have an odor to warn people of their presence or the possibility of leakage. This is done by adding a sulphur compound.

Because they are both gases, they are often stored in compressed tanks. This type of storage is more common for propane; natural gas is either compressed or delivered by pipes.

Natural gas, as it name implies, is a naturally occurring gas. It is a gaseous fossil fuel that is collected from the Earth’s surface by pumping it out from oil and natural gas fields. Natural gas is a mixture of gases which is mostly composed of methane and traces of butane, ethane, propane, pentane, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and many others. It is measured in cubic feet or cubic meters.

On the other hand, propane is a pure gas or substance. It can be derived from oil or petroleum refinement or natural gas processing. It is collected after it is separated from other components and distilled as a pure substance. It is measured in gallons or liters.

Natural gas can be classified into three types: compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), and an uncompressed form. As a fuel, natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel, meaning that when it is burned, it doesn’t release pollutants into the air. On the other hand, propane is recognizable in its liquefied form known as liquid petroleum gas or LPG. When this type of gas is burned, it releases some pollutants and may affect the flavor of the food.

Natural gas can be lighter than or as light as natural air. In case of a leak or dissipation, it “rises” and dissipates quickly. In contrast, propane is heavier and denser in comparison to air and natural gas. When released, propane goes down and collects into a space. It doesn’t dissipate into the air as quickly as natural gas. This “behavior” makes it more vulnerable to concrete and may incur an explosive risk.

Natural gas is often in the form of gas while propane is usually in liquid form. Propane is also more potent and produces more energy and heat compared to natural gas. The advantage of natural gas is that it costs less to buy.

Propane can be easily compressed into a tank and is decompressed by a valve. On the other hand, natural gas is harder to compress and must be at a higher compression rate compared to propane.

Summary:

1.Both natural gas and propane are gases used as fuels for many similar purposes.
2.Natural gas is a mixture of different gases. Its main component is methane with traces of other gases like: butane, ethane, propane, pentane, and others. Propane, on the other hand, is a pure gas. It is a component of natural gas.
3.Natural gas is derived from the ground and occurs naturally. Propane is a product of the refining process and processing. It is then separated and distilled.
4.As a fuel, natural gas is characterized as cleaner because it doesn’t release pollutants when burned. Meanwhile, propane does release some pollutants into the air and food when used.
5.Natural gas is lighter or the same weight as air and dissipates quickly. It rises when released. In contrast, propane is heavier and denser compared to natural gas and air. It usually “gathers” at the bottom and concentrates. This makes propane a more risky gas that can explode.
6.Propane has more energy, a higher combustion, and is more potent than natural gas.


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