Propane vs Butane
Propane and Butane are names of gases that have many similarities and serve similar purposes. Both are household names today they are used as a fuel for industrial as well as residential purposes. Both are byproducts of petroleum but have different chemical structures and have different features. Both gases have different properties and their own advantages and disadvantages. Let us understand the basic difference between the two gases.
Whereas propane is a three carbon alkane containing three carbon atoms and eight hydrogen atoms, butane is a four carbon alkane containing four carbon atoms and ten hydrogen atoms. Both propane and butane can be obtained either in the form of oil or natural gas as a byproduct of petroleum. For the purpose of transportation, they are converted into liquids by compressing them and filled into gas cylinders or distributed through gas pipelines. They are both combustible, and release water and carbon dioxide upon combustion. However, when there is lack of oxygen both propane and butane burn producing soot and carbon dioxide.
Of the two, propane is more commonly used as a fuel for homes. It is also used for heating homes. It is also used as a fuel for vehicles in which condition butylene, propylene and butane are added to it. It is then referred to as Liquid Petroleum Gas or LPG. Since propane is an odorless gas, ethanethiol is added when it is used as a fuel for vehicles which makes it easer to detect in case of any leakages.
Though butane is less commonly used than propane, it is nevertheless a very useful fuel gas. It is used in camping stoves, cigarette lighters, and also as a fuel in aerosols. Butane is cheaper than propane and is also more energy efficient as it produces more energy per unit of fuel upon combustion. Still it is less commonly used as it is difficult to make tanks that can contain this gas. Since butane is 12% lighter than propane, it is ideal for backpackers as they have to carry lesser weight on their backs.
Propane however, scores over butane when it comes to be used in harsh climates as it has lower boiling point. It can be stored at a higher pressure and burns easily at freezing temperatures.
• Both propane and butane are gases that are byproducts of petroleum and used for the purpose of fuel but have different properties and pros and cons.
• Propane has three carbon atoms and eight hydrogen atoms in its molecule thus labeled as a three carbon alkane, butane is a four carbon alkane with four carbon and ten hydrogen atoms
• Propane is more popular in North America and used as a fuel for homes and is also used for heating homes. It is also used as a fuel for vehicles when added with butylene, propylene and butane along with ethanethiol
• Butane is cheaper and has higher energy coefficient than propane. It is also lighter than propane
• Propane has a lower boiling point making it more suitable for use in harsh climates