Important Terms from A to Z
Butane (iso-Butane, 2-Methylpropane, n-Butane)
Butane is a colorless, combustible gas that is easily liquefied. It belongs to the lightest hydrocarbons (alkanes) and has the molecular formula C4H10. Butane occurs in two forms: n-butane and isobutane (also: iso-butane, 2-methylpropane). Both isomers are gaseous at room temperature. Butane is non-toxic and highly flammable. It is also explosive when mixed with air.
Production of butane
Butane is a liquefied petroleum gas that occurs naturally in crude oil and natural gas and is therefore a by-product of crude oil distillation (in refineries during cracking) and natural gas.
Applications of butane
Butane is used in a number of areas. In its liquid form (LPG), it is used as a fuel for internal combustion engines. LPG consists of a mix of propane and butane in a ratio ranging between 95:5 to 30:70. It is generally offered at service stations as a summer blend (40:60) and a winter blend (60:40). It is an easily stored gas, as it remains liquid at room temperature under comparatively low pressure.
In the food sector, it is used as a propellant, extraction solvent, and additive, and also as a refrigerant in refrigerators (especially since the ban on CFCs, as it is not harmful to the ozone layer, as it oxidizes relatively quickly to carbon dioxide and water in nature). In other areas, butane is used e.g. as a propellant for paint sprays and other spray cans, as a heating gas in camping stoves, and as a fuel gas in lighters and tanks.
The chemical industry uses butane to produce C4 alkenes (1,3-butadiene, 1-butene, 2-butene, isobutene), and for synthesizing higher hydrocarbons and oxidation products, among other applications.
Status: January 2020
All information subject to change. Errors and omissions excepted.