Dissociation of methane into hydrocarbons at extreme (planetary) pressure and temperature
Dipartimento di Fisica "G. Galilei," Universitá di Padova, Via Marzolo 8, I-35131 Padova, Italy. Science
(Impact Factor: 33.61).
03/1997; 275(5304):1288-90. DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5304.1288
Constant-pressure, first-principles molecular dynamic simulations were used to investigate the behavior of methane at high pressure and temperature. Contrary to the current interpretation of shock-wave experiments, the simulations suggest that, below 100 gigapascals, methane dissociates into a mixture of hydrocarbons, and it separates into hydrogen and carbon only above 300 gigapascals. The simulation conditions (100 to 300 gigapascals; 4000 to 5000 kelvin) were chosen to follow the isentrope in the middle ice layers of Neptune and Uranus. Implications on the physics of these planets are discussed.
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