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MARGINALIA

Old Gas, New Gas

Methane—made and taken apart by microbes, in the Earth, by people

Roald Hoffmann

Methane hydratesClick to Enlarge Image

At the wellhead, natural gas is 70 to 90 percent methane. The gas we use at home—expensive, this winter—is nearly pure methane. That simple, archetypical organic molecule, CH4, methane, has a carbon bonded to four hydrogens at the corners of a tetrahedron. And methane's structure is the only simple thing about it.





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