Methane

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Methane is a hydrocarbon and it is the simplest alkane with the chemical formula CH4. It is composed of a single carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms covalently bonded (single covalent bonds). This bonding gives a tetrahedral structure (109.5º) [1].

Its natural production is mainly due to methanogenesis (a reaction carried out by methanogens). Its presence from human activity is because of the losses during extractions of oil, gas and coal [2].

Methane is a colourless odourless gas that is also considered a greenhouse gas, since it contributes to global warming. Its global warming potential is 30 (this is a measure of heat trapping effectiveness compared to CO2[3].

Reactions

Complete combustion:

CH4 + O2 → CO2 + H2O

Incomplete combustion:

2 CH4 + 4 O2 → 2 CO2 + 4 H2O

References

  1. Green, J. & Damji, S. (2007). Chemistry. Victoria, Australia: IBID Press p.107-108
  2. http://www.eoearth.org/article/Methane?topic=49554
  3. Neuss, G. (2007). Chemistry IB Study Guides. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p133
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