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Gasses for household applications (propane, butane etc.) often come in small disposable containers, such as metal bottles or cans. I know that it is possible to refill some of them, such as one-pound bottle that is ubiquitous in North America, but there are some safety and legal issues associated with that (latter, however, is to prevent people to commercially refill those in potentially unsafe conditions and/or sell them as new, as I understand).

Are there dedicated small multi-use containers for various gasses either in metric or imperial sizes with simplified refilling infrastructure? Out of non-traditional products I had only seen Ragasco and Lite Cylinder, which offer composite LPG tanks, that are lighter and supposedly safer than regular steel ones, offering several other advantages, such as ability to clearly see the level of fuel, and non-corrosiveness (boon for marine applications). But they do not offer any small-size products (minimum is 5kg propane containers or thereabouts).

  • scuba-diving equipment comes to mind - lots of refillable gas tanks of various sizes. I've no idea if any of them are suitable for flammable gases. They're generally either steel or aluminium, IIRC – EnergyNumbers Feb 28 '13 at 8:20
  • flammable gases use other conventions for screw connections, to avoid accidents (so you can't easily accidentially form an explosive, pressurized mixture). This firm separation in standarts should be kept up! Also assume that there are numerous safety issues that don't come to mind at once. – mart Mar 8 '13 at 10:35
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There are standartized Systems for bottled gas, but I can't say how ubiquitous they are - see gas cylinders. Here in Germany a common size is I think about 10 kilo of Buthane. Maybe the wikipedia article provides you with some keywords to search for different suppliers.

Note that for very good reasons they may only be refilled by authorized personnel.

An alternative would be the gas bag. Those would not be pressureized. I think there are 1m³ versions, to be carried by one person, developed for use in less industrialized areas. Those are designed for Methane or Biogas, with significantly lower energy densities than propane or buthane what you are asking for. However they are unwieldy, the energy density is low and there is no pressure that you can use for your equipment downstream. While the low energy density of uncompressed gas makes them also less hazardous, you would still need to take into account numerous safety issues.

I don't know what you are planning to do, but I would strongly advise to stick woth safe and tried solutions than to hopmebrew a possibly dangerous system - unless you know very well what you are doing, and changes are you don't. Maybe a portable system that uses liquid fuel - there are camping stoves that use a wide variety of fuels, including diesel - is more appropirate for your needs.

  • I ask specifically about small portable containers. I am aware of standardized medium- to large-sized containers. What I am concerned about is cutting down on disposable bottles and replacing them with reusable ones (alumunium or composite for light weight), even if “refilled by authorized personnel”. – theUg Mar 20 '13 at 18:53
  • Now I understand your question better. Not that I have an answer for that. – mart Mar 21 '13 at 8:33
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There are not in Europe or North America. Other regions of the world, I don't know. Some enterprising trep could still make a bundle developing one and getting it through the various legal hurdles. However, advancing battery and renewable technology has relegated such vessels to limited roles in which an electric device is just not a suitable replacement.

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