METHANE
By Nasif Nahle
Submitted to Review on 7 March 2007.
Published on ©20 April 2007

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METHANE

Methane is a colorless, odorless and inflammable gas that is produced by inorganic synthesis and biotic and abiotic degradation of organic matter.

Methane is widely distributed in nature.

Its chemical formula is CH4, which means that it is formed by one atom of Carbon and four atoms of Hydrogen.

The methane is produced by great amounts during the formation of the stellar systems, being, often, held in the atmospheres of gaseous and rocky celestial bodies, in the bottom of water oceans, in superficial ice cores or in the subsoil of rocky planets. If the celestial bodies have oceans, like Earth, a great amount of methane stays forming hydrates. That methane is released into the atmosphere when the temperature of the oceans increases and the methane gas hydrates dissociates.

The molar mass of methane is 16.0425 g/mol.

The methane has a specific heat of 2,226 kJ/kg*K at a temperature of 25 °C and a pressure of 1 atm.

Currently, its density in the atmosphere is below the levels that it has reached in other geologic periods. Its present density in the atmosphere is of 1740 ppbv (parts per billion volume); that is, 1.74 ppmv or 1.12 grams per cubic meter of air. This amount is 219 times smaller than the present density of atmospheric CO2.

The heat forcing by the Methane in its present density in the atmosphere is hardly 0.000535 W/m2, which it is equivalent to 0.00013 calories-thermal.

The effect of the current density of methane in air, decoded to a change in the tropospheric temperature, is barely 0.0002 °C; therefore, the methane cannot be considered like an important agent in the generation of the global warming.

Nasif S. Nahle
February 05, 2007
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RESOURCES

Bakken, G. S., Gates, D. M., Strunk, Thomas H. and Kleiber, Max. Linearized Heat Transfer Relations in Biology. Science. Vol. 183; pp. 976-978. 8 March 1974.

Boyer, Rodney F. Conceptos de Bioquímica. 2000. International Thompson Editores, S. A. de C. V. México, D. F.

McGrew, Jay L., Bamford, Frank L and Thomas R. Rehm. Marangoni Flow: An Additional Mechanism in Boiling Heat Transfer. Science. Vol. 153. No. 3740; pp. 1106 - 1107. 2 September 1966.

Potter, Merle C. and Somerton, Craig W. Thermodynamics for Engineers. Mc Graw-Hill. 1993.

Wilson, Jerry D. College Physics-2nd Edition; Prentice Hall Inc. 1994.

http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/20011212methane.html

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