|MadSci Network: Chemistry|
Very high temperatures (over 1000 degrees Celsius) are required in order methane to be broken down to carbon and hydrogen. Furthermore, one would need a special reactor for this purpose. Taking into account that the construction of such reactor is not a trivial task and that it is quite difficult to reach the required high temperature, I suggest that it would not be feasible at all to do this in your home lab. Also, you should not forget that methane is highly explosive when mixed with air! The thermal decomposition of methane is also known as "pyrolysis". Actually this is a complex chemical process, in which the initial step is formation of acetylene: 2CH4 ---> C2H2 + 3H2 The acetylene then decomposes to carbon and hydrogen: C2H2 ---> 2C + H2 The pyrolysis of methane is sometimes used for the industrial production of acetylene. Moderator's note: ----------------- A lower-temperature reaction, using steam and a catalyst, is used to convert methane into a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. This mixture is called "synthesis gas" or "syngas" for short, and is used as a raw material for a number of industrial chemicals, including methanol.
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