LPG or Liquified Petroleum Gas is the common name for a flammable mixture of mainly Propane and Butane.

It belongs to the HYDROCARBON family which includes LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) and even Petrol and Diesel. Most hydrocarbons found on Earth naturally occur in crude oil, ie decomposed organic matter.


In organic chemistry, a hydrocarbon is an organic compound consisting entirely of hydrogen and carbon. LPG comes from crude oil or natural gas processing and petroleum refining. Some examples of Hydrocarbons are:

LPG (propane) contains approximately 50MJ per kg. That also converts to 13,9kWh.

Equation for Complete Combustion of LPG – Propane:
Propane + Oxygen → Carbon Dioxide + Water + Heat
C3H8 + 5 O2 → 3 CO2 + 4 H2O + Heat
LPG burns cleanly and does not foul equipment, resulting in increased combustion efficiencies in comparison to oil and coalfired heaters and steam generators. When burned, carbon emissions are low and virtually no carbon black is produced

Equation for Incomplete Combustion of LPG – Propane:
Propane + Oxygen → Carbon Dioxide + Carbon Monoxide + Water + Heat
2 C3H8 + 9 O2 → 4 CO2 + 2 CO + 8 H2O + heat
Incomplete combustion of LPG (propane) occurs when not enough oxygen is present. It results in the production of water, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide:
CARBON MONOXIDE is highly toxic and symptoms include drowsiness, nausea. Proper ventilation will prevent the formation of carbon monoxide.


LPG is an efficient fuel, which has a higher calorific value (is more energy-dense) than alternative fuels, such as coal, natural gas, diesel, petrol and fuel oils. This means that an LPG flame burns hotter than alternatives and provides instant and efficient energy.

It can also be used in a number of applications – from domestic heating and cooking, to commercial and industrial applications.The fact that the gas can be stored at moderate pressure means that it can be safely transported and handled in relatively small to very large containers. This makes it an easily-accessible form of energy for a range of users of various circumstances, including low income households with limited or no access to electricity and who have transport challenges.


An LPG (propane) flame burns at 1980°C. When it is burning properly (enough oxygen), the flame is mostly blue. A yellow or red flame is usually indicative of incomplete combustion.

LPG has a high energy content (per kg) when compared to alternative fuels that may be used for household applications and, most particularly, in lower income households (such as kerosene, wood or coal).
It is also a clean-burning fuel, which means that it has great health advantages, reducing indoor air pollution in homes. Its portability makes it particularly suitable for applications in remote locations that cannot be easily or economically supplied with electricity via a grid. It is also easily transportable in small, moderate- pressure cylinders.

LPG for Cooking
Burning LPG provides instant heat for cooking, making it an effective alternative to electricity.
Gas stoves are highly efficient for cooking applications, with it being more cost-effective to utilise gas for cooking than electricity on an energy-equivalent basis.
The portability of gas bottles and the availability of inexpensive small one-burner or two-burner stoves makes LP Gas an effective cooking solution for Low Income Households.

LPG for Water Heating
The use of LPG for water heating is an excellent water saving solution, particularly in light of the water crisis in the Western Cape and, more specifically, Cape Town.
LPG heaters perfectly complement solar water heating solutions. Solar energy is used to heat the water a minimise running costs and then an LPG gas booster is included for times of low sunlight or when there are periods of peak demand.
Gas can also be used for tankless (geyserless) continuous flow systems to provide hot water on demand. This means that there is no need to store water at a high temperature and this results in energy saving, while also meaning that the risk of bacteria in stored water solutions can be avoided.

LPG for Space Heating
There are a variety of LPG heaters on the market, which are safe to use and are very effective for spacial heating. LPG provides an instant source of heat and does not create indoor air pollution which may be harmful to health.

One advantage of LPG is that its size of flame and burning temperature can be easily and accurately controlled, meaning that it is highly suitable for a range of commercial and industrial processes. LPG fired heaters have much shorter start-up times and lower maintenance costs and are generally more efficient than heaters utilising alternative fuel sources.

Sectors where LPG is utilised include:
• Restaurants and hotels
• Metal processing
• Drying
• Food production
• Agri-processing
• Power and plastic coating of metals industry
• Powering of kilns, furnaces and industrial ovens
• Solder, welding and flame cutting
• Galvanising industry, smelters, foundries
• Powering or illumination of remote stations, e.g. cellphone network stations or road signs
• Green buildings (augmentation of solar power or micro power generation)


LPG is normally stored in pressurised containers or cylinders of different sizes, according to the amount of LPG (in kg) that they can hold. They best way of knowing how much LPG you have left is to WEIGH the cylinder and subtract it’s “EMPTY WEIGHT” which is usually indicated on the cylinder.

The LPG inside your cylinder is a mix of VAPOUR and LIQUID

Water (liquid) boils at 100°C or 212°F, becoming a gas (steam).

In contrast, LPG (propane) boils at -42°C or – 44°F, becoming gas vapour. LPG stays liquid because it is under pressure in a gas
cylinder. So when you use the vapour for your appliance, the liquid literally boils off more vapour until you have used it all.

This “boiling” process absorbs ambient heat from the surroundings and that is why (during heavy consumption), you will feel the cylinder sides become very cold.


LPG is colourless and odourless in its natural state.

That is why we add “the smell” aka Ethyl Mercaptan here at Sunrise Energy. It is a compulsory safety feature to alert users of any system leaks and to prevent the accumulation of LPG without detection. You should never smell LPG during usage, except when starting or igniting your appliance.

Always ensure that your LPG installation is done by a qualified Gas Installer. They must be able to show identification and will give you training on appliance safety and use after installation. You will also receive a COC (Certificate of Compliance) for any fixed installation, which is required by your insurance company.

LPG, is very safe if you treat it with respect and follow the safety rules during use and storage.

Ethanethiol, commonly known as ethyl mercaptan, is an organosulfur compound with the formula CH3CH2SH and is a colourless liquid with a distinct odour.
Ethyl Mercaptan has a strongly disagreeable smell that humans can detect in minute concentrations. The threshold for human detection is as low as one part in 2.8 billion parts of air (0.36 parts per billion). Its odour resembles that of leeks, onions, rotten fish or cooked cabbage.


LPG is a “Non Pollutant” and when released , it will literally evaporate. LPG also burns cleanly during complete combustion to release only HEAT, water vapour and CO2.


The growth of the LPG market in the Western Cape has previously been severely constrained by availability of supply, with limited production of LPG by local refineries. The existence Sunrise Energy Import Terminal means there are no longer such constraints, meaning that the supply of LPG will consistently meet any increase in market demand for a number of years (with the Sunrise Terminal designed to increase in capacity as market demand increases).

This introduces numerous opportunities for the development of business in this sector, with just a few key opportunities highlighted below:

Opportunities for SMMEs
The existence of Sunrise Energy, which is an independently-operated terminal, unlocks the supply of LPG. This increased availability of LPG provides opportunities in both distribution and retail for new small to medium enterprises wishing to develop businesses in the LPG sector.

Autogas Conversion
The use of LPG as an alternative auto fuel has multi-faceted benefits, the first being a reduction in CO2 emissions of 10-12% (when compared to the emissions from a similar petrol engine), as well as the reduction in NOx. Secondly, LPG as an auto fuel can be shown to be significantly more cost-effective than either petrol or diesel. It has also been shown to be as safe as conventional fuels for vehicles.

Several immediate opportunities can be identified for the conversion of public transport vehicles to LPG fuel: • The conversion of our buses from LPG to diesel
• The installation of dual-fuelled cylinders in our mini-bus taxi fleets.

Fuel Switching for Industrial Thermal Applications
The use of LPG as an alternative to heavy fuel oil, diesel or coal may be more economical in industrial thermal applications, particularly when considering improved combustion efficiency, much shorter start-up times and the fact that the burning of LPG will not foul heat exchange surfaces, which reduce efficiencies and increase maintenance requirements.

LPG also has significantly lower environmental impact than other fuels. Clean industries, such as food processing, agri-processing, pharmaceuticals and high-tech fabrication industries will particularly benefit from the use of this cleaner and often more affordable fuel source.

Green Building, Green Manufacturing and Small Power Generation
LPG is the ideal fuel for small power generators in the range 250 kW to 5 MW. The economics can be significantly improved when power generation is combined with combined heat, power and cooling.
When combined or integrated with other renewables, such as solar water heating and solar voltaic solutions, LPG can be the ideal clean fuel for green buildings and businesses needing process heat and electric power.
Technologies such as microturbines or fuel cells and combined heat and power cooling are already commonly used in green building and green industry applications.

Metered Estates
Bulk LPG tanks can be installed at housing estates, from where LPG can be directly piped to houses within the estate. Each property would be supplied from the bulk tanks and fitted with a meter to monitor individual gas consumption. The LPG provider can automatically be notified when the bulk tanks need to be filled, meaning that home owners will have uninterrupted supply of gas for their domestic needs, with the supply of the LPG being at cost-effective due to the nature of bulk supply at wholesale rates.



Mogsie is our mascot and represents a healthy LPG flame – mostly blue body with yellow/ orange tips.