(above) methane image # 6: picture of a methane molecule on a purple background. This image is 500 x 500 pixels; the original image is 4096 x 4096 pixels.
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.