Methane, CH4, is the lightest, least dense hydrocarbon. It is the major constituent of natural gas, and is a potent greenhouse gas.
Because it is so simple, many biological processes produce it. This makes it easy and popular to produce as a byproduct of fermentation and composting.
However, it has many drawbacks as a mass energy source. Because it is so ephemeral, it contains relatively little energy per unit volume at easily obtainable pressures. Also due to its lightness, it has a very low boiling point, and it takes tremendous pressure and/or refrigeration to liquify it. One analysis indicates that, when compressed adequately to have energy density required of moving vehicles, it actually consumes more energy to compress it than is released in work when combusted.
This does not mean it is without use! It can be handy for low pressure, relatively low heat uses, such as mantle lighting or cooking.
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