How Is Propane Used in Manufacturing, Warehouses, and Industrial Settings?

October 3, 2022

Propane: Clean Energy for Every Industry

With two percent of all energy in the nation now coming from propane, commercial industries are increasingly adopting propane as a reliable and cost-effective energy source. Many facilities such as warehouses, manufacturing plants, and printing presses have adopted propane not only for heating their buildings, but also for essential parts of their operations.

Butch’s Propane delivers propane to residential and commercial locations for more convenient and reliable power, and for a number of industrial uses. With propane tanks for rent or purchase, you have complete freedom over whether you’d like to make a long-term, up-front investment in your company, or simply factor the cost of renting a tank into your existing budget.

If you’ve been considering switching to propane, take a look at how industries like manufacturing, warehouse and storage, and other fields use propane in their businesses.

Propane Uses in Manufacturing

Propane can be used to generate heat or perform chemical treatments for many kinds of products in manufacturing. It is also a high-efficiency power source that allows for the operation of manufacturing equipment. Some of its uses include:


Galvanizing metal is the process of creating a protective zinc layer over iron or steel. Iron normally reacts with oxygen in the air, which leads to rust. Galvanizing allows iron or steel parts to last longer by preventing this reaction from happening.

There are several ways metal can be galvanized. Hot-dip galvanization is the most common way to galvanize large machine parts. In this process, the iron or steel component is dipped into a bath of molten zinc and cooled afterward. Usually, the zinc is melted in an induction furnace, which creates heat with an electrical current, like a stovetop. Some smaller furnaces, though, benefit from using a petrochemical fuel. Propane is usually the most efficient and the least expensive.

Another method of galvanizing that uses propane is sherardizing, also called vapor galvanization. Commonly used for small parts with complex shapes, sherardizing starts with the placement of metal components into a container filled with zinc powder. The container is rotated while a propane flame is applied, causing the zinc to evaporate into gas and bond with the steel or iron. Sometimes, a zinc wire is even fed directly into a propane flame, which melts the zinc and sprays it across the parts that need to be galvanized.

If you’d like to learn more about whether propane is a useful solution for your galvanization process, give Butch’s Propane a call, and a representative will answer all your questions!

Heat Treatment

Some metals need to be hardened, softened, or to have their chemical properties changed before they can be used for a desired purpose. In creating alloys—mixtures of metals, like steel or brass—metals also have to be set at high temperatures in order to combine with each other. Heat treatment is the process of changing a metal’s makeup in some way so they can be better prepared for their intended use. Heat treatment can include:

• Annealing – Heating the metal and then gradually cooling it in order to make it softer.

• Stress Relieving – When metal is welded, such as in the assembly of storage tanks, boilers, and other pressurized containers, structural stressors are introduced that can make the metal more susceptible to damage. Stress relieving is heating a metal to a certain temperature to lessen internal stress. This lets the product endure longer.

• Flame hardening – Using a focused flame to heat a small portion of the metal. This allows some parts of the metal to be harder and other parts to be more flexible.

• Precipitation strengthening – This process raises the metal’s temperature and then submerges it in a chemical solution that strengthens the metal.

• Quenching – Cooling at a rapid rate to increase the metal’s hardness.

• Tempering – After a metal is quenched, it can be heated at a specific temperature, which softens it, but also improves its toughness and ability to handle stress. This process, called tempering, is one of the oldest metalworking techniques in history. Today, propane is an industry standard fuel source for metal tempering, thanks to its efficiency in heating and its low cost.

Regardless of the heat treatment method your product needs, propane is one of the best investments you can make for a reliable, clean energy source. Butch’s specialists can answer any questions you may have about switching over to propane, or about changing to a new propane provider with more competitive costs.

Melting Metal

Metal melting is an important process with many applications. Melted zinc is used in galvanization, for example. Crafting jewelry also requires high levels of heat to melt down gold and silver so they can be poured into casts to be shaped. Melting also creates useful products for industry like piping, building materials, and more. Metals used for these important materials include steel, copper, aluminum, and brass. Propane is the most frequently used liquefied petroleum gas used for melting down and shaping numerous metals.

Heating Water

Companies like pharmaceutical manufacturers, breweries, and many others rely on heated water to create their products. These organization often rely on propane heating for its effectiveness and availability. Propane water heaters may use 30 percent less energy than electric heaters. They’re also faster at heating water, able to heat twice the volume in the same amount of time.

Boilers and Steam Generators

Propane can be used in a generator to boil water and produce steam as a power and heat source. It’s more efficient than burning wood, and it produces less smoke and pollution. Because propane transfers energy efficiently without losing heat to the surrounding environment, it’s also a more cost-effective option.

Propane Uses in Warehouses

Warehouses often rely on propane for central heating, especially in areas where the electric power grid is unavailable, or simply more expensive. Some warehouses find space heaters more efficient for their needs, and a propane system is a great way to power these devices as well.

Warehouses have often found other uses for propane. Industrial refrigeration sometimes uses propane as a power source. A propane flame can heat a cooling solution, turning it into a combination of gases that react chemically, drawing heat from the surrounding area.

But of all the industrial uses of propane in warehouses, one of the most common and longstanding is the powering of forklifts. As indoor vehicles, forklifts need to have a fuel source that is clean burning and contained.

Butch’s Propane technicians will regularly refill your stock of propane for forklifts, clean heating and energy, and other uses—that way, you’ll never miss a beat in daily warehouse operations.

Propane Vehicles

More than 200,000 vehicles in the U.S. are run by propane-fueled engines. In these vehicles, propane is stored in a compressed, liquid form, and it’s then injected into the engine’s combustion chamber to burn. In this sense, it’s similar to a gasoline combustion engine.

Ultimately, propane costs less than gasoline or diesel to use, even though understanding the pricing difference can be a little complex. Propane prices are more stable than the price of gasoline because propane is a byproduct of natural gas rather than oil. Gas prices may fluctuate up and down over the course of a year, but propane prices will stay relatively similar—and will usually be lower than gas prices. And even though propane produces less energy than gas (which means you need to refuel more regularly), propane saves money in the long run because it creates less wear-and-tear on an engine.

In other words, it’s cheaper up front and cheaper in the long haul, even if you wind up having to refuel a little bit more often.

Propane vehicles also perform well in cold environments like those of Wyoming, South Dakota, and Colorado. Unlike diesel, it enters the engine in a gas form, which circumvents many of the problems that arise in cold weather. This makes propane a great choice for heavy industrial vehicles with complex machinery, especially in the winter when business operations could otherwise be slowed by icy temperatures.

Butch’s Propane Offers Efficient Fuel for Industrial Use

Butch’s can help you install an on-site refueling station for your place of business so that your propane-operated machinery has a regular fuel supply, and you can save costs and operating expenses compared to less reliable fuels. We’ll take care of everything: installation, remote tank monitoring, and all refilling and maintenance. You even get the first year’s tank rental for free! Whatever your industry, Butch’s Propane is here to meet your needs. Call us today for a free consultation!

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