Propane Tank History

Propane tanks are widely used in commercial and residential settings. Recently, US National Policy Act of 1992 has approved propane as alternate clean air energy, which has revitalized national and international sales. It was first discovered in 1910 when Dr. Walter O Snelling became interested in strange pressurized vapors coming out of a Ford T Model car.


In just ten years, the sales of propane reached 223,000 gallons. Soon, propane tanks were used to heat barns in major farmlands around the United States. Its transformation into liquefied form propelled commercialization, promoting large scale use in vehicles and hot air balloons. In 1927, the Tappan Stove Company introduced the first propane powered gas range, which ultimately resulted in widespread use of propane tanks in residential sectors. Actually, it proved a revolutionary concept as people no longer depended on natural gas connections and firewood. Instead, they could just buy a compatible gas range and connect propane tank to cook their food.


The following year, this revolution proved a catalyst in introducing bobtail trucks and propane powered refrigerators. Soon, it seemed that every house in the United States is striving to get its hand on a propane tank which could effectively be used to fuel background grills and operate pumpless blowtorch. Eventually, bobtail trucks with big white propane tanks became a common sight. Initially these trucks would carry approximately 500 gallons of propane gas but rising demand forced manufacturers to introduce 1000 to 3000 gallon propane tanks. In 1965, GATX became the first company to build the world's largest propane tank which could carry almost 60,000 gallons of gas.

Use in Transportation

Have Gas? We Do!
Creative Commons License photo credit: TheeErin

Nevertheless, the sale of propane tanks had already skyrocketed due to its potential use in fueling cars and heating homes. In vehicles, it was used as liquefied petroleum gas, LPG. Scientists soon realized this the gas is nature friendly. It produces 30% less carbon particles compared to oil and 50% less than coal. Realizing this distinct characteristics, US government passed laws to benefit transportation industry. Consequently, in 1950, Chicago Transit Authority ordered propane powered 1000 public buses. Following Chicago, Milwaukee also ordered 270 Taxis that would utilize propane gas. It will not be an overstatement to suggest that this was the Golden Period of propane tank when sales hit 7.5 million installed units. By then, nearly everyone seemed to own a white propane tank either for cooking fuel, welding household appliances or driving a car.

Such was the impact of government reforms that United States, today, consumes 90% of the entire production that takes place, Worldwide. Recently, many advance and developing countries have also started using Propane. In Italy there are more than 1.5 million vehicles fitted with propane tanks. Similarly, 90% of Taxis in Japan use LPG. It is also becoming popular in many developing countries such as Egypt, Pakistan and Ecuador.

Current Usage

These days propane gas is widely used for rural heating, vehicle fuel, cooking and refrigeration. It is now ranked as the seventh most important source of energy. White cylindrical propane tanks are found in every size and shape. Large oceangoing ships are specifically built to carry thousands of gallons of propane to different regions of the World. In United States alone, more than 14 million rural homes and 700,000 farms depend on these propane tanks to fulfill their energy needs. Likewise more than 350,000 industrial sites utilize propane tanks to cut metals, provide heat in cold weather and to dry concrete.

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