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Figure 1. Space filling model of ethane, the white is hydrogen and the black is carbon.[1]

Ethane is an alkane with the chemical formula C2H6. As a hydrocarbon, it can undergo hydrocarbon combustion which gives off heat. Ethane is one of the hydrocarbon components of natural gas, which is a type of fossil fuel.[2] In its purest form, ethane is a colourless, odourless substance. This gas is often put under enough pressure to turn into a liquid.


Below is a table of some basic properties of ethane.

Chemical formula C2H6
Molar mass 30.1 grams/mole
Energy density 53.2 MJ/kg [3]
Melting Point -183oC[4]
Boiling Point -89oC[4]

Combustion Reaction

Ethane undergoes hydrocarbon combustion, combining with oxygen to form carbon dioxide. The balanced chemical equation for the complete combustion of ethane is:[5]

2 (C2H6) + 7 (O2) → 4(CO2) + 6(H2O) + Heat Energy (Enthalpy)

The hydrocarbon combustion reaction releases heat energy and is an example of an exothermic reaction. The reaction also has a negative enthalpy change (ΔH) value.

For Further Reading


  1. "Ethane-3D-vdW". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -
  2. “NATURAL GAS FAQs,” Pacific Northern Gas RSS. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 24-May-2017]
  3. Glenn Elert. (2015). The Physics Hypertextbook - Chemical Potential Energy [Online]. Available: [February 16, 2015].
  4. 4.0 4.1 Charles E. Ophardt. (2003). Virtual Chembook - Hydrocarbon Boiling Points [Online]. Available: [February 16,2015].
  5. Dr. Colin France. (2014). Products from Oil - The Combustion of Hydrocarbons [Online]. Available: [February 16, 2015].