Ethane and Oxygen Gases Reaction | CH3CH3 + O2

Ethane, a combustible alkane, can be used to generate heat by burning with oxygen gas. As products, carbon dioxide and water are given if complete combustion is achieved. Otherwise, carbon monoxide can be given as another product if the supplied oxygen gas amount is not sufficient for a complete combustion.

CH3CH3 + O2 → CO2 + H2O

In this tutorial, we will discuss followings.


Ethane is an organic compound which contains only two carbon atoms and six hydrogen atoms. Because, there are only carbon and hydrogen atoms and bond structure between atoms is aliphatic, ethane belongs to alkane group in organic chemistry. Also, it is a gas at room temperature.

Stoichiometric balanced chemical reaction of ethane and oxygen gases

stoicheometric balanced equation of CH3CH3 + O2 reaction

Two moles of ethane reacts with seven moles of oxygen gas and produce four moles of carbon dioxide and six moles of water.

2CH3CH3(g) + 7O2(g) → 4CO2 + 6H2O

Heat generation

As methane, ethane can be used for heat generation from the combustion with oxygen gas.

Thermal energy of the ethane and oxygen reaction

Enthalpy of combustion of ethane gas per unit mass (kg) or per mole is used to calculate how much energy can be generated (or released) after combustion of ethane gas. We will show you how those calculations are done with a few examples in this tutorial.

  • Standard enthalpy of combustion of ethane (mol basis): -1561.0 kJ/mol
  • Standard enthalpy of combustion of ethane (weight basis): -51.89 MJ/kg

Example: Calculation of heat generation due to ethane combustion

How much energy is released if 25g of ethane gas is burnt with excess oxygen gas.

According to the value of standard enthalpy of combustion of ethane gas, you know how much energy is generated if 1kg of ethane gas is completely burnt with oxygen. In this example, you only burn 25g of ethane gas. Therefore, it is a straightforward calculation.

  • Heat generated by 25g of ethane combustion = 51.89 * 25/1000
  • Heat generated by 25g of ethane combustion = 1.30 MJ

If a water heating system is developed to absorb heat from the above combustion process, calculate what is the final temperature of the water after absorbing heat. Use following data for calculations.

  • Initial temperature of water = 300C
  • Efficiency of heat transferring of the equipment = 80%
  • Total amount of water= 10kg
  • Specific heat capacity of water = 4.2 KJ/ mol

Calculate amount of heat transferred to water

  • Total energy transferred to water = 1.30 * 80/100
  • Total energy transferred to water = 1.04 MJ

Calculate final temperature of water after water absorbs heat

Use the equation, Q = mc(T1 - T2)

  • 1.04 * 103 = 10 * 4.2 * (T - 30)
  • T = 54.760C

Oxidation number changes in combustion of ethane

Because, ethane combustion is an oxidation - reduction reaction, oxidation numbers of some elements should be changed when products are given. In this case, carbon atom's oxidation number is changed from -3 to +4. Therefore, carbon atom is oxidized while oxygen atoms are reduced as a result.

Health and safety

Ethane is a highly inflammable chemical such as methane that can result in sudden explosions. Therefore, careful handling is required for the safety of everyone.


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