From camping stoves to household heaters, it feels like propane has been around forever. But in reality, propane as we know it was discovered just over a century ago, and it took even longer to make its way into our homes. Here's the scoop on propane's surprising past.
- 1910: Chemist Walter Snelling discovers propane after observing how gasoline in a jug causes the cork to pop off. A few years later, Snelling sells the patent and others start developing new uses for the fuel.
- 1920s: Throughout this decade, research paves the way for new ways to use propane in appliances and gas equipment. Slowly, products are rolled out into homes.
- 1930s: During this decade, a rotten egg odor, ethyl mercaptan, is added to propane to allow consumers to detect leaks. In addition, railroad tank transit is developed along with local bottle-filling plants, making the fuel even more ubiquitous.
- 1947: By this time, 62 percent of American homes are equipped with either natural gas or propane.
- 1950: The first propane-powered buses are ordered by the Chicago Transit Authority. By 1958, total national propane sales reach over 7 billion gallons.
- 2004: By this time, propane grows to be a nearly $10 billion industry, with roughly 15 billion gallons of propane used annually in the United States.
For more history and facts about propane, check out this video:
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