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COGA | The Combustion of Methane

When methane gas (CH4) combines with oxygen (O2) they combust to produce carbon dioxide (CO2) and
water (H2O). We write the balanced chemical equation for this reaction as:
CH4 (g) + 2O2(g)  CO2(g) + 2H2O(l) + Energy
Source: Virtual Chembook, Elmhurst College

Using this equation, we can find how much product (CO2 and H2O) are produced for some input of reactant
(CH4 and O2). We are interesting in knowing specifically how much water is produced for some input of
methane gas. Since pounds, cubic feet, and gallons are more difficult units to work with than Metric units,
we will start with grams and moles and convert at the end to Standard units.
Below are the stoichiometry calculations showing how many grams of water is produced from 1 gram of
This table lays out a visual way to think about stoichiometry problems. The orange arrows show the flow of
our calculations, starting with our input of 1.00 gram of CH4.

Mass (g)
Molar Mass


1.00 g
16.042 g/mol

2.25 g
18.015 g/mol


.062336 mol


.12467 mol

We start with 1.00g of CH4. We need to convert this quantity into moles so we know how many moles we
have available to react. We convert using the molar mass of CH4.
1.00g/(16.042 g/mol) = .042336 mol of CH4 (in 1 gram)
We need to take into account the coefficient of H2O when we react our .042336 mol of CH4.
(.042336 mol CH4)*2 = .12467 mol H2O
1660 Lincoln St., Suite 2710, Denver, CO 80261 • Phone: 303.861.0362 • Fax: 303.861.0373 •


275 moles of CH4 in 1 pound of CH4 28.2758 mol*(2) = 56.042 g/mol) = 28.785 L/gal/(1. we want to convert our 2. rounded to 3.0209 L 3.0373 • www.861.25 lb of H2O.9 g/(1g/cm3) = 1020.To convert moles of H2O back into a mass measurement we use the molar mass of H2O. we can do the same calculations on a much larger scale. CO 80261 • Phone: 303.COGA. We use the same calculation pattern as above: 453.5506 mol*(18.71 gallons H2O Every pound of methane burned yields 3.70751. If we start with an initial volume of CH4. but now with 1 pound of CH4. we want to upscale our input and convert to pounds and gallons. how much H2O will the reaction produce? How much water is produced from the combustion of 1 BCF of methane? Conversions Density CH4: 0.25 lb yield of H2O into gallons.66kg/m3 1 CF = 0.0022 lb 3785.028316847 m3 1 kg = 2.015g/mol) = 2.246 lb H2O. .9 cm3 = 1020. Conversions 1g = .204062292 lb H2O 1 gal = 8.5506 mol H2O 56. Increasing the Scale For usefulness.59237 g L = G*3.759 g/(453.3453 lb 1660 Lincoln St. Suite 2710. Since a volume measurement of H2O is easier to interpret than pounds of water.861.015 g/mol) = 1018.. 2012-06-25 2 . Denver.25 lb From the calculations we find that 1 lb of CH4 combusts with O2 to yield 2.59237 g/lb) = 2.59237 g/(16. To do this.785 L/G 1000cm^3 = 1000mL = 1L We will follow the same stoichiometry calculations as we did with 1 gram of CH4.759 g H2O 1018.9 mL = 1. we will need several conversions listed below.25 g H2O Since grams are not the best unit of measurement for the quantities of CH4 and H2O that a gas well produces. rounded to 2.7 gallons of water.0362 • Fax: 303.4118 g = 1 gal Density of water @ STP: 1g/cm^3 1lb = 453.12467 mol*(18.0209 L) = 3.

6 gal H2O Over 11 million gallons of water are added to the atmosphere from burning 1 BCF of methane gas.539. Assumptions Since volume and weight are not interchangeable measurements. we can produce almost 42 million kilograms of water. Summary One molecule of methane combusts with two molecules of oxygen to produce one molecule of carbon dioxide and two molecules of water.861.0373 • www.560 mol H2O 2.1.028316847 m3/ft3) = 28. 41.975.COGA. we must use the density of the compound when converting between them.023. propane.119 kg CH4 – This is our initial weight of CH4 from 1 BCF. For reference.560 mol *(0.71 gallons of water and that 1 BCF of methane produces over 11 million gallons of water.3453 gal/lb) = 11. These calculations only consider the combustion of methane with oxygen.330.330.989 atm).000.689. For practical use. The temperature and pressure may vary at the site of combustion. 32 F) and a pressure of 1 bar (0.4 kg H2O produced So with an input of 1 BCF of methane.165e9 mol CH4 1. we can convert our kilograms of H2O into pounds and gallons as shown below.66kg/m3) = 18.119 kg/(0. Density of a compound generally varies with temperature and pressure. the above calculations can be followed using the accurate density for those conditions.539. CH4 (g) + 2O2(g)  CO2(g) + 2H2O(l) We can quantify how much water is produced in this reaction using stoichiometry and a lot of conversions! Our calculations show the combustion of 1 pound of methane results in the production 3.374.9 lb H2O 92.088.374.847 m3 CH4 28.000 ft3*(0. pentane) may be present in a well.316.859.018015 kg/mol) = 41.859.15K (0 C.0362 • Fax: 303. We can now apply this ratio to any initial input of methane to calculate the output of water from a given natural gas well. If a temperature and pressure are known. so all calculations here are done at standard conditions for temperature and pressure (STP). Other gases ( 2012-06-25 3 .689.9 lb/(8.023. 1660 Lincoln St.. STP is at a temperature of 273.000.316.20462292 lb/kg) = 92.4 kg*(2.859. Suite 2710.975.165e9*(2) = 2.847 m3*(0. CO 80261 • Phone: 303.861.016042 kg/mol) = 1. 18. Denver.

124673 mol H2O .org 2012-06-25 4 . Suite 2710. CO 80261 • Phone: 303.Assumption: 1.062336 mol 2(.0373 • www.861.0022 lbs) For 1 g CH4: 1g/(16.861.015g/mol = 2.24598g H2O (for every 1 g of CH4) 1660 Lincoln St. Denver.0362 • Fax: 303.042g/mol) = .062336mol) = .124673mol*18..COGA.053 ft^3 contains 1 g of CH4 (which is ~.5L or .