Understanding Solids Liquids and Gases: Example Methane

349 words | 2 page(s)

Understanding how chemical compounds change state is valuable in learning how climate change can be controlled. When green-house gases like methane and CO2 are prevented from entering the atmosphere the amount of heat retained can be reduced.

Molecules can be found in three states Solid, Liquid and Gas. Each state is a function of how close the molecules are and how rapidly they are moving. The strength of intermolecular forces is also a function of state.

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Much of the Earth’s methane resources can be found on the ocean floor. They occur in the form of solid methane hydrates. Solids have the highest density of the three states. Molecular movement is the slowest and intermolecular force is the strongest. Norwegian petroleum engineers compared transportation costs of liquid natural gas to natural gas hydrates which can be stored in small high density space. A single cubic foot of hydrate can contain over 180 cubic feet of gas (Wolman). As our earth continues to heat up, the hydrates become unstable and can allow methane gas to escape into the atmosphere increasing the rate at which global warming takes place.

Liquids lie in the midrange of these states of matter. They have moderate intermolecular force and density. Methane gas is often compressed into liquid form and transported in tankers, however, nearly all known gas fields cannot justify costs of tanker transportation. Researchers have proposed transporting methane as solids. Transporting solid fuel is safer because it is physically more stable.

Gas has a lower density, greater intermolecular movement and lower intermolecular force than liquids or solids. It has no fixed shape. When greenhouse gasses like methane enter the atmosphere they have a serious negative impact on climate change. Exploring how to economically capture methane gas and convert it to solid form can help stabilize our climate. According to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, biogas capture is an effective and affordable way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (EESI).

  • EESI. Biogas Capture and Utilization. Retrieved from http://www.eesi.org/
  • Wolman, David. Gas Goes Solid. MIT Technology Review. Retrieved from https://www.technologyreview.com/

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