What are the primary gases produced by propane combustion?
November 4, 2004 11:11 AM   Subscribe

What are the primary gases produced by propane combustion? I was just told a story about a nearby warehouse, very high ceilings, 2600 sq ft, which is being heated by umbrella-style outdoor propane heaters (think of outdoor restaurants in LA, for you left coasters). Visions of dead people litter my mind, consequently. Am I right, or confused with regard to the exhaust? Please provide authoritative links so I can pass this along without being confrontational.
posted by mwhybark to Science & Nature (6 answers total)
Those things definitely produce CO; however, it's possible that the building in question might have adequate ventilation to accommodate them. Underground parking garages, for example, are designed to recirculate the air rapidly enough that CO poisoning isn't an issue. I know that there are warehouses that are similarly designed to accommodate internal combustion vehicles (or propane heaters, which are pretty common in warehouses).

As for how much ventilation is proper, it should be laid out in the local building codes. You might think about giving a code inspector a call.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:43 AM on November 4, 2004

Like any hydrocarbon, propane when completely burned produces carbon dioxide and water; these are not too bad, although you could use up enough oxygen and produce enough carbon dioxide to suffocate anyone in the building. Complete combustion never happens in the real world, and so you end up with partial combustion products of which the worst is carbon monoxide, which combines readily with the hemoglobin in the blood, displacing oxygen and suffocating the victim from the inside. This is how people die in fires, from car exhaust, and so on.

Using outdoor heaters indoors is never a good idea, even if the building seems adequately ventilated. There have even been cases of carbon monoxide poisoning in open ski boats on the lake.
posted by TedW at 11:49 AM on November 4, 2004

My slow work computer can't handle it, but at www.sylvane.com you can download a large PDF of the user manuals for some of these heaters.
posted by TedW at 11:56 AM on November 4, 2004

This site is definitely a contender for "worst design ever", but Carbon Monoxide Headquarters seems to be THE source for info on CO.
posted by LimePi at 3:48 PM on November 4, 2004

CO, CO2, NO, NO2, SO2 are produced by propane heaters. reference
posted by shoos at 4:28 PM on November 4, 2004

Even low-level chronic carbon monoxide exposure can do nasty things (brain damage, etc.)
posted by hattifattener at 11:09 PM on November 4, 2004

« Older Can I cash this French cheque in Canada and keep...   |   Online introduction to Perl Unix scripting? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.