Methane - CH4

What is Methane?

Methane is the simplest of saturated hydrocarbons with a chemical formula CH4. It consists of four hydrogen atoms and one carbon atom and is the simplest alkane.

When natural methane reaches the surface of the atmosphere is called atmospheric methane and can be found under the seafloor as well as below the ground.

It is odourless or has a sweet oil type smell and has no colour. It is a flammable non-toxic gas. It is a tetrahedral molecule which has four equivalent C-H bonds. It is produced by colonic anaerobes. Alessandro Volta an Italian physicist was the first to scientifically identify methane in the year 1776.

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Properties of Methane – CH4

Methane is one of the most important greenhouse gas and approximately 70% of methane emissions are linked to human activities. Pure methane is an energy-rich feedstock with an energy density of 55.7 MJ/kg and is used to generate electricity, for domestic heating and cooking

CH4 Methane
Molecular Weight/ Molar Mass 16.04 g/mol
Density 0.656 kg/m³
Boiling Point −161.50 °C
Melting Point −182.5 °C

Methane Structure – CH4

Methane Structure

Methane Structure

CH4 Uses (Methane)

  • It is used in automobiles, ovens and water heater as a fuel
  • It is used in the generation of electricity
  • It is used as rocket fuel in its refined liquid form
  • It is used as  an antifreeze ingredient in industries
  • It is a common ingredient in fertilizer
  • It is used to sanitize products
  • It is used in gas-fired power stations
  • It is used in gas cookers
  • It is used in the testing of gas appliances


Tetracyanomethane or carbon tetracyanide is a percyanoalkane molecular carbon nitride with formula C(CN)4. The structure can be considered as methane with all hydrogen atoms replaced by cyanide groups.

Tetracyanomethane, C(CN)4, is a tetrahedral molecule containing a central sp3 carbon that is coordinated by reactive nitrile groups that could potentially transform to an extended CN network with a significant fraction of sp3 carbon. High-purity C(CN)4 was synthesized, and its physiochemical behavior was studied using in situ synchrotron angle-dispersive powder X-ray diffraction (PXRD) and Raman and infrared (IR) spectroscopies

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs


Is methane gas harmful to humans?

Methane alone is non-toxic but can become deadly when mixed with other gases. Methane displaces oxygen to induce asphyxiation. It can cause dizziness and headache symptoms, but these frequently go unnoticed until the brain signals the body gasping for air.


What is the main cause of methane gas?

Methane is released during coal, natural gas, and oil production and transportation. Methane emissions are also caused by livestock and other farming activities and the degradation of agricultural waste in urban solid waste landfills.


Why is methane gas bad for the environment?

For example, if methane spills into the air before being used from a leaky pipe – it absorbs the heat from the sun, warming up the atmosphere. It’s called a greenhouse gas, like carbon dioxide, for this reason.


Is methane a fossil fuel?

Fossil fuels range from volatile materials with low carbon-to-hydrogen ratios (like methane), to liquids (like petroleum), to almost pure carbon-composed non-volatile materials, such as anthracite coal. Methane can be found either alone, in combination with oil, or in the form of methane clathrates in hydrocarbon fields.


Can Methane be extracted from the atmosphere?

The bacteria can then be used to extract methane from the air. Because of its intense effectiveness as a greenhouse gas, Boucher and Folberth claim that the elimination of methane may be financially competitive with carbon capture, even if the technologies themselves are more expensive.

You can learn more about the different properties, applications, the structure of CH4 and other chemical compounds from the expert faculties at BYJU’S – India’s largest education company. Register now!

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