METHANE is the first in a series of ALKANES, hydrocarbons that contain only single bonds (i.e. they are saturated hydrocarbons). Methane is a gas at normal temperatures. It is important as a greenhouse gas and as a fuel in natual gas.
METHANE AS A GREENHOUSE GAS. Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas.
METHANE STRUCTURE: methane consists of a central carbon atom covalently bonded to four hydrogen atoms. The bonds radiate out, as far away from each other as possible, towards the vertices of a regular tetrahedron. The carbon atom is shown as a black sphere at its covalent radius. The hydrogen atoms are shown as green spheres drawn at their covalent radii. The transparent bubbles that surround each atom represent the van der Waals radii of the atoms.
NATURAL GAS: consists predominantly of methane. It is a very convenient fuel and is used for gas cooking (gas stoves and gas barbecues), home heating (gas fired central heating & gas fires) and for water heating. It can also fuel electricity generation. Natural gas can also be liquified for transport and storage, when it is known as Liquified Natural Gas or LNG:
LIQUIFIED NATURAL GAS is a very pure form of methane. It is used as a fuel for vehicles. LNG can be transported by sea in large tankers. The natural gas is liquified by cooling to very low temperatues.