Methane Rocket

An ordinary plastic bottle turns into a rocket.

Scientific name: Methane reacts with oxygen with a large release of energy.

YouTube

The methane rocket

by Royal Society Of Chemistry

Methane Rocket

by CausewayScience

Methane Rocket Launches

by Mount Grace Science Department

Methane Rocket Stoic

by ChemPics

Safety

Wear eye protection goggles. Cover your ears. Use each bottle for one demonstration only.

Always follow general safety recommendations. Please note that conducting chemistry experiments you must comply with the relevant legal procedures in your country.

Reaction formula

CH4 + 2O2 → CO2 + 2H2O

Reagents

  1. Methane
  2. Oxygen

Step-by-step instruction

WARNING! This experiment is dangerous! You should NOT perform this at home. ONLY carry out this experiment, if you are a trained chemist, and you understand local safety and legal requirements, which are required to perform such experiments

  1. Prepare a strong plastic bottle of 0.3-0.5 l volume.
  2. Measure its exact volume using water and a measuring cylinder.
  3. Divide the bottle volume into 3 parts. Pour the volume of water equal to 1/3 of bottle volume.
  4. Mark the water level with a waterproof marker.
  5. Fill the whole volume of the bottle with water.
  6. Prepare a large bowl filled with water.
  7. Place the bottle into the bowl and lower it under the water keeping its mouth downwards.
  8. Put the bottle upright.
  9. Put the gas delivery tube to the bottle neck.
  10. Fill the bottle with methane to the marked level. Gas will replace water from the bottle.
  11. Change the gas source. Fill the rest part of the bottle with oxygen.
  12. Carefully lift the bottle from the water still keeping it upside down.
  13. Seal the bottle with a cap.
  14. The rocket is ready for blast off! Place the rocket on the launch pad
  15. Remove the cap and light the gas mixture inside the bottle with a lighted splint.
  16. The gases react with a loud bang. The expanding hot gas pushes the rocket making it fly.

Scientific background

When gas mixture is ignited methane reacts with oxygen producing water and carbon dioxide. The reaction is strongly exothermic. The energy releases in the form of light, sound and heat. The expanding under heating gas pushes the rocket making it fly. According to Avogadro’s law the equal volumes of all gases contains the same number of molecules at given pressure and temperature. The stoichiometric ratio between methane and oxygen in combustion reaction is one part of methane to two parts of oxygen. Measuring volume of gases during mixture preparing allows obtaining the optimal ratio between components. The small rocket created in this experiment could be considered as a model of large space rockets. Since the usually used reaction of hydrogen combustion has some disadvantages methane is tested as an alternative fuel for space rockets.

Danger:
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Published on 15 June 2015

  • Fire
  • Heating with fire
  • Explosion
  • Poisoned gas
  • Organic
  • Electricity
  • Solution
  • Oxidation reduction
  • Color change
  • Precipitate
  • Gassing
  • Catalyst