MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: Is natural gas or methane actully the cleanest buring gas?

Date: Mon Nov 6 05:43:39 2000
Posted By: Nik Streit, Grad student, Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 972799650.Ch

Ideal methane combustion in oxygen will lead to CO2 and water as products:

CH4 + 2 O2 -> CO2 + 2 H2O

As most combustion processes are done in air, there is always the formation of nitrogen oxide (NO). Natural gas is made up of 70-90% methane, with a 0-20% content of ethane, propane and butane. In the ideal case, these gases also burn cleanly to form just carbon dioxide and water. In natural gas, there are other contaminants such as N2, H2S leading to the production of other products such as NO and SO2. Methane is thus the cleanlier burning gas.

An even cleaner solution would be to burn Hydrogen (H2). There, water is the only product of a clean burning, and no CO2 is produced.

2 H2 + O2 -> 2 H2O

The problem of NO remains, when hydrogen is burnt in air rather than oxygen (O2). Another concern about the environmental impact besides the actual burning may be how the gas is obtained or produced.

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