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What is Ethane Gas?


Ethane (C2H6), like methane, pentane and butane, is colourless and odourless hydrocarbon. It also makes up a proportion of natural gas and is most popularly known for its presence in petroleum oil and is a by-product of oil refineries. Ethane can be liquified under pressure or at reduced temperatures to be separated from natural gas. Ethane is a hydrocarbon alongside methane and pentane and, when it undergoes hydrocarbon combustion, gives off heat.


Although Ethane is a greenhouse gas like methane, it exists in much smaller quantities has it has a much smaller lifetime to methane, a few months compared to 10+ years. Ethane is also not as popularly used in fuel. Instead, Ethane is most popularly used to make ethylene. Ethane can be converted to ethylene and hydrogen through pyrolysis or steam cracking through hot tubes. The melting point of ethane is is -183 Celcius, and its boiling point is -39. It is also a raw material of petrochemicals and is used to create products such as polyethene plastic, ethylene glycol and ethyl alcohol. Ethane can also be used as a refrigerant for very low temperatures. It is often used in the production of anti-freeze and detergents.

Fun Fact – Ethane has been detected in the atmosphere of Saturn's moon, titan.

Applications used in

  • Power generation
  • Plastic manufacturing
  • Detergent production