The combustion of all fossil fuels follows a very similar
Fuel (any hydrocarbon source) plus oxygen yields
carbon dioxide and water and energy.
A simple combustion reaction is given for methane. The combustion
of methane means that it is possible to burn it. Chemically,
this combustion process consists of a reaction between methane
and oxygen in the air. When this reaction takes place, the result
is carbon dioxide (CO2), water (H2O), and
a great deal of energy. The following reaction represents the
combustion of methane:
One molecule of methane, (the [g] referred to above means it
is gaseous form), combined with two oxygen molecules, react to
form a carbon dioxide molecule, and two water molecules usually
given off as steam or water vapor during the reaction and energy.
Natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel. Coal and
oil, the other fossil fuels, are more chemically complicated
than natural gas, and when combusted, release a variety of potentially
harmful air pollutants. Burning methane releases only carbon
dioxide and water. Since natural gas is mostly methane, the combustion
of natural gas releases fewer byproducts than other fossil fuels.