Transportation is what permits the consumption of LPG's at points far removed from the origin points. A progressive and dynamic transportation system has made this worldwide commerce possible. Year by year the modes of transportation have expanded and improved.
-in the early days, LPG's were transported in small metal containers, called "cylinders" or "bottles"
-1920s, introduction of railroad tank cars suitable for hauling LPG's in large volumes
- introduction of highway transport followed, and subsequently LP-gas began moving by ship, barge and pipeline
-today, the innumerable modes of transportation has made an originally small industry into a global conglomerate
5 Transportation Modes:
Bottled Gas Cylinders - portable and reusable cylinders of limited capacity are transported by truck direct to customers. Cylinders vary in size, from a cigarette lighter container to models capable of holding 100 gals. The most common size is the 20-LB, which is used in trailers and campers.
Tank Cars - Highway tankers or transports refer to large truck and trailer combinations -either semi-trailers or integral units combined with trailers in tandem. These are used to haul the product from a source of supply or a midway point, i.e. pipeline terminal, to the local bulk plant for further distribution to the ultimate customer. These vehicles range in size from 6000 to more thane 12,000 gal. In general, the greater the payload the more economical the shipment. Thus, where there is a need for large-volume transport, the largest vehicle (size is limited by highway weight laws) with the greatest payload possible is used. The tanks themselves are fabricated of a lightweight but tough steel. Components of transports are built to rigid specifications established by the governing authority.
Bobtails - a second family of tank trucks, bobtails or bulk trucks, are used to carry gas from the local distribution point, the bulk plant, to the ultimate customer. They are single-unit vehicles without trailers, much smaller in capacity than transports and designed specifically for quickness, ease of handling and maneuverability.
Marine Shipments - LP-gas can also be transported by barge and in oceangoing vessels. Barges are usually constructed with tanks set in side-by-side pairs. The slow pace at which they are towed is compensated by the low transportation cost and the payload capacity. Since the late 1950s, mammoth vessels equipped with refrigerated storage facilities have usurped the long-haul, large-volume trade.
Pipeline - the advent of long-distance products pipelines improved the economics of shipment between states, provinces and nations. The earlier lines were built to transport mixed or batched streams, which today still carry 2 or more petroleum products. During W.W.II, when Axis nations were sinking vast tonnes of American tankers and the oil lifeline from the Gulf Coast to the Eastern Seaboard was in jeopardy, the US government constructed 2 oil lines (the famous Big Inch and Little Big Inch) to link the supply with the market. Today, nearly all product moves through one or more pipelines. Pipelines are an important component of the LPG's and other petroleum product transportation system.