Propane, butane, CNG - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 14 Old 11-10-2007 Thread Starter
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Propane, butane, CNG

Does anybody happen to know how interchangeable these fuels are on galley stoves?

I would imagine that CNG is not interchangeable, but what about propane and butane? Do you need to change any parts on your stove/system if you change over the gas?

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post #2 of 14 Old 11-10-2007
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There are two ways of regulating gas pressures for different gases. One is via an orifice, as in a burner orifice. The other is via a regulating valve which may also require a different orifice, or may not. As suggested, you should contact the manufacturer of your unit. Generally speaking, it is not a difficult conversion to perform if the unit is designed to be used with different gases.

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post #3 of 14 Old 11-10-2007
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Most gas appliance service outfits should be able to help you out.

Going from propane to CNG or vice versa is requires an orifice size change on most stoves. The connection fittings will likely also be somewhat different. A professional can get the information and parts you need for that.
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post #4 of 14 Old 11-10-2007
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While butane and I believe CNG is available widely in Europe, I believe CNG is very hard to find easily in North America. I can recall only a few service stations in Toronto that sell it, mainly because some delivery vans use it as a fuel. This is a shame, because CNG is arguably a superior fuel for boats, as it is lighter than air, and thus avoids the primary issue that propane has of leaking into the bilges and forming a "fog bank" of potential explosiveness.
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post #5 of 14 Old 11-10-2007
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CNG isn't really all that available anywhere AFAIK. The problem is a chicken-and-the-egg situation...where companies don't want to install CNG sales terminals, since there is not much demand for it... and people don't buy CNG equipment, since the fuel is rather difficult to get.

As for gas stoves... CNG works a very diiferent pressure and volumes than do butane and propane, which will generally work with the same burner and hoses. CNG is not compatible with copper pipes IIRC, which are often used on boats with propane/butane setups.

CNG is not as good a fuel, since it is much lower in heat generated than propane or butane, but is a bit safer since Methane, the primary component of CNG, is lighter than air and will not tend to collect in the bilge or inside the boat to any major degree. Propane and butane both can collect in the boat's bilge and lead to a nasty explosion. I highly recommend any boat with a propane heating appliance, whether it is a stove or heater, have a propane fume detector, ignition safe bilge blower and a CO detector.

BTW, LPG, isn't always propane, but can often be a mix of propane and butane. Propane is a better fuel in the winter time or in colder conditions, since it remains gaseous down to about -40˚C, versus about 0˚C for propane. CNG is better in really cold weather, staying gaseous until about -150˚C.

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Propane boils at about -27 degrees, IIRC.

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post #7 of 14 Old 11-10-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailaway21 View Post
Propane boils at about -27 degrees, IIRC.
Survey says XXXXXXXXXXXX...Wrong again as usual... BTW, -40˚C = -40˚F...so it doesn't really matter what temperature scale you're using.

Try looking here:

Quote:
Liquid phase
  • Liquid density (1.013 bar at boiling point) : 582 kg/m3
  • Liquid/gas equivalent (1.013 bar and 15 °C (59 °F)) : 311 vol/vol
  • Boiling point (1.013 bar) : -42.1 °C
  • Latent heat of vaporization (1.013 bar at boiling point) : 425.31 kJ/kg
  • Vapor pressure (at 21 °C or 70 °F) : 8.7 bar
Critical point
  • Critical temperature : 96.6 °C
  • Critical pressure : 42.5 bar

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post #8 of 14 Old 11-11-2007 Thread Starter
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Talking

Thanks for all the replies. sailingdog, that was most helpful.

We have a force 10 propane stove that was installed in Canada and over here we've been using what we thought was propane, but just may be butane or even LPG with a combination of both with no problems. In fact I didn't even think of the issue until yesterday when...

a cruiser who sailed in here not so long ago came to me with the question. It seems that he originally installed CNG and a compatible galley stove when he first refitted in Michigan in the US. Since then he's been crusing for many years, slowly making his way across the pond, through Scandinavia and down through the Med. He's just come in here to refit a little before heading on down the Red Sea to India. (Quite a guy ) He says that for each area that he's cruised he's had to change cooking fuels and he was wondering if he could get butane over here.

That led to look at his galley stove, tank and fittings and then I got to wondering about compatibility...

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post #9 of 14 Old 11-11-2007
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"CNG isn't really all that available anywhere AFAIK. The problem is a chicken-and-the-egg situation...where companies don't want to install CNG sales terminals, since there is not much demand for it... and people don't buy CNG equipment, since the fuel is rather difficult to get."

As a matter of fact, it's quite available in some countries. Both Argentina and Brazil have CNG at the pump in gas stations. I have two cars that run on CNG and the savings are amazing, not to mention they pollute less buring CNG. I can do 350km on one tank (costing about 8 dollars). That said, I think all the cooking gas here is LPG, but I'm not 100% sure. It just got me to thinking, the high pressure (200 BAR) CNG tanks for cars would make excellent stove tanks- you could store years worth of fuel in one!
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post #10 of 14 Old 11-11-2007
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A few years ago on a previous boat I stumbled into a surefire (okay, bad analogy) way to get free propane all summer. I had a propane BBQ on the rail and didn't want to lug around a large propane cylinder. So I bought one of the small ones, and was pleased to discover that every time I took it to the local filling station, they couldn't figure out what to charge me and just kept filling it for free...over and over again.
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