Steel versus composite: the intergenerational conflict between two cylinders’ world

Just like mobile generations, cylinder’s world developed over the years getting increasingly more qualities in favour of the highest safety standards trail blazing to a new concept of technological innovation.

Cylinder’s generations

Their heritage can be seen in four different generations.

Generation I cylinders were introduced in the nineteenth century, between 1870-1880, to store liquid carbon dioxide for industrial gas businesses. Generally they were long steel tubes without handles and were logistically hard to handle.

Generation II cylinders are also made from steel. Handles have been added and the shape has been refined, cylinders are now shorter but wider. This generation of cylinder is the most popular and is known as the “traditional” cylinder.

Third generation cylinders improved upon type II, using plastic for coating the metal exterior allowing the exterior to be customised. However, these cylinders continue to have the same drawbacks as Generation I and II.

Generation IV cylinders are the latest on the market. They were developed with aerospace technology and represent a real advance in technology, that otherwise has effectively remained unchanged over 75 years. They have unique characteristics including being lightweight, nonexplosive, translucent, non-corrosive and environmental friendly.

About the intergenerational conflict

The latest generation of cylinders gets ready for breaking the global market, however we witness an intergenerational conflict between steel and composite gas cylinders, firstly due to a strict conservative view of the main distributors in this sector.

As reported by LP Gas Magazine, in more mature markets composite LPG cylinders are typically used by LPG distributors as a way to strengthen ties with consumers. They normally recover part of the additional investment of composite LPG cylinder by setting up a scheme to motivate the consumer to buy more LPG gas and thus recover the investment through LPG gas sales.

The LP Gas Magazine takes into account how in the growth markets end users’ appreciation of the composite LPG cylinder’s unique qualities is the main sales driver. The lighter weight of the composite cylinder comes in very handy in areas with poor infrastructure and no public transport, for instance. Often users have to travel considerable distances to get a refill, and the more than 50 per cent reduction in tare weight either allows the user to collect more LPG for the same effort, or use less effort for the same amount of LPG.

In a number of growth markets, LPG is going to replace firewood or kerosene, either as part of a programme to prevent deforestation or to reduce illness and deaths due to contamination and fire accidents. Therefore, the latest generation of composite cylinders directs its attention to the families, allowing them to live, cook and sleep in a space where the high standards of the product resets any risk of explosion.

Furthermore, health and safety legislation is often in conflict with the need to load and unload steel LPG cylinders onto forklift trucks for refuelling, but the reduced weight of a composite LPG cylinder is normally within acceptable ranges for manual lifting.

In recent years, the industry has seen LPG consumption stagnate or fall in developed countries, and there has been increased focus on the usage of LPG gas in other areas, encouraged by the World LP Gas Association, through its Exceptional Energy initiative. This effort is being made on many different political and business levels and in all parts of the world.

Why choose composite?

Composite LPG cylinders are composed of helically woven fibres and combined with resin. Their features mark an important transition to a new generation technology transferring interesting characteristics, including being 100% recyclables, and resistant to UV, to mention a few.

On the safety front, composites cylinders boast that they’re non-explosive – even when engulfed in fire. In addition to being fifty per cent lighter than conventional steel cylinders, the composite solution is unique in that it is translucent and makes for easy visibility of LP gas levels which was previously impossible.In reverse, traditional steel cylinders have some gaps.

Apart from the unaesthetic aspect and the fact that they are neither translucent nor recyclable, the main issue concerns that, due to certain circumstances, they can be explosive. Their improper use, voluntary or not, may provoke terrifying destroying effects, as the growing number of blasts occurred this year around the world.

Factors that show how the necessity of a massive change on the global market is essential, mainly to guarantee the global population’s welfare.


Composite LPG cylinders are often used to show innovation in a sector that is viewed as old fashioned and outdated.

All in all, the usage of composite LPG cylinders is growing every day and, as a result, more and more LPG users are getting an even more positive experience from using this great energy.

Therefore, nowadays a huge portion of distributors’ rejection of the idea to make this important breakthrough would arrest the growth already undertaken and disappoint both the consumers and the global market’s expectations.

That’s as if the old generation would not accept the new one, creating an alibi over the usual statement:  “If it not broken, why should I fix it?”

We could answer: “Because innovation means progress and believing in it means future.”