Shakhashiri, Bassam Z. Department of Inorganic Chemistry, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin.
Schreiner, Rodney Department of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin.
Last reviewed:November 2016
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- Methane on other planets
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The simplest compound of carbon and hydrogen, CH4. Each molecule of methane contains four atoms of hydrogen bound in a tetrahedral arrangement to one atom of carbon (see illustration). At room temperature, methane is a gas less dense than air. The gas liquefies at −164°C (−263°F) and solidifies at −183°C (−297°F). It is not very soluble in water. Methane is combustible, and mixtures of about 5–15% in air are explosive. Complete combustion of methane produces carbon dioxide and water. Methane is not toxic when inhaled, but it can produce suffocation by reducing the concentration of oxygen. See also: Alkane
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