I have been in the fore front of promoting the use of gas to power generator rather than using petrol which is the most use fuel for powering generators in Nigeria especially for domestic use. I have granted TV Interview on it and I have also done some couples of seminars teaching people on how they can convert their generators to use gas.
But one thing has been of great concern to most people and I have heard the same question several times any time I talk about this better option for powering generator. People curiously ask, “how safe is it to use gas to power generator?” Many are concerned if it will not explode. Someone was asking if Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) approved it.
I really understand why people are concerned about the safety of using gas to power generator. There have been a lot of generator accidents that had happened to several persons and families due to the use of generators. Some people have got burnt and even died due to fire accident that occurred while refilling generator with petrol or because of excessive heat. Some families had died because of carbon monoxide from exhaust of generators and there have been some scanty news about gas explosion when some individuals carelessly handle gas while cooking at home.
So, the idea that comes to most mind is if with petrol, there have been a lot of accidents, don’t you think that the gas accident will be enormous?
But today, I want to show that it is safer to use gas to power your generator than petrol.
Let me start by explaining what can cause fire explosion. For fire to be ignited, three components must be available, heat, fuel and oxygen. Whenever generator starts working, it generates heat and the petrol that powers it is inflammable content. There is also oxygen in the air and around the generator when it is working. Invariably, often time, there is a potential for fire explosion. But then, the tank of a generator is often tightly close which keep away direct oxygen from it. But when you decide to refill the generator while it is still working and has generated a lot of heat, the fuel comes in contact with air and with the help of the oxygen fire is ignited and explosion occurs because all the components that ignite fire are available at the process of refueling the generator.
Even if there is a fault with your generator and it produces a lot of heat which can directly has an impact on the petrol that is inside the tank of the generator and if unfortunately, the fuel has contact with the air there will be fire explosion.
Though gas is also inflammable but it is not as volatile as petrol. There has not been much news about gas fire explosion as we have with petrol. How does gas explosion happens? I will explain but let us look at these pictures for us to compare the volatility of petrol with cooking gas.
This is a picture of a woman cooking with the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinder that is supplying the gas tightly close to the cooking stove. You can see the blue fire at the bottom of the pot and both the stove and the gas cylinder are together in a closed place, probably it is the woman’s kitchen.
Now, just imagine that petrol is what is kept at that corner while you are cooking by it side. In case you don’t understand what will happen, do not try that at home because I can tell you that it won’t take a very long time for the entire kitchen to burn down. Why? Petrol is more volatile and can catch fire fast with heat alone without even tempting it with naked fire.
See another picture here.
This is a picture of another woman cooking with LPG with the stove directly attached on top of the cylinder. She is even supporting the cylinder with a plastic drink crate which is another fuel because it can also ignite fire easily. This is also done in an enclosed room. You can’t do this where you have petrol. Can you cook on top of a container that has petrol in it? That will definitely be a dangerous experiment to do.
Let look at this last picture.
This Indian woman is probably cooking inside her room with the LPG cylinder close to the stove itself and you can see her smiling and probably chatting away with someone while checking what she is cooking. These pictures are just few examples of what you should not try at any time you have petrol close by.
Whether the petrol is inside a keg or cylinder like that of LPG, never try it because the volatility and explosion potential of petrol is very high. I will never bring fire close to my generator when it is working because that is a red danger alert.
I heard the story of a family that lost three family members in a day because when the fuel got finished in the generator, they wanted to refill with petrol and they have a cousin that just came from the village, while two of the children of the family were out trying to refill the generator, their cousin with the intention to assist them brought a candle for them to see very well and that was the end. They all got burnt and died in hospital.
But I will want to see this video too.
In the video, I was actually demonstrating how I generate biogas and also use it for cooking. You will notice that my generator is also by it side. But the generator is powered by gas and not petrol. If it is using petrol, I will never light up the biogas stove beside it.
I have shown you all these to demonstrate that using gas to power your generator is safer than petrol because it is not volatile as petrol.
Now, let us consider what can cause explosion with gas.
The LPG is made from butane or propane. The gas is compressed in a liquid form into the cylinder. When it is being used, the gas is passed from the cylinder into the gas stove or generator through the carburetor. The gas gives a clean burning fire without smoke. It does not produce carbon monoxide that is dangerous to human being’s health and it does not blacken the pot kerosene when it is being used for cooking.
The same thing happens when you use it for generate, it doesn’t produce carbon like petrol and help the longevity of your generator. The only time explosion can occur with the gas is when there is a linkage of the gas may be from the rubber hose or from the connecting tap of the cylinder or of that of stove or generator.
If your gas cylinder is placed outside, that is, not in the kitchen or an enclosed room and there is a leakage, the gas starts to disperse to the air and over time move further away. Since there is no heat which may only likely be caused by naked fire, there can’t be any explosion.
But if the gas cylinder is within an enclosed place like the kitchen and there is a leakage, the gas filled the whole room and if someone mistakenly ignites fire, the gas will catch fire and there will be a ball of explosion of fire since the whole room is filled with inflammable gas. But if you detect that there is a leakage and the room or kitchen is filled with gas, simply ensure that nobody brings fire or struck match stick. Open the door and window and let the gas escape, then you can easily avert the danger of explosion.
Another reason why gas is safer is that you don’t need to refuel it; you just need to change a refilled one with the exhausted one. With that you are safe from type of accident that occurs when people refill their generator with petrol manually.
With all these point said, now think about it, between petrol and gas, which one is more “fire explosion friendly”? Anyway, you are expected to take precautions when using any inflammable content as we the ones we have explained here, but in comparison of the petrol and cooking gas to power generator, it has been categorically proven to you that compressed LPG is safer.
Do you want to learn about how to convert your generator to use gas? Click here for the information.