7

It feels like methane is growing popularity to cook food while camping. I've only used the "classics" like methanol, propane and butane.

Why would I prefer methane gas as my camp stove fuel?

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    I have actually never seen a methane stove. Do you have examples that you have seen in use? – njzk2 Dec 9 '15 at 20:01
  • @njzk2 you have probably seen a methane stove, Natural gas is Methane, the gas stove in most homes and business burn methane. What you have not seen is a methane camp stove, neither have I, as pointed out in the answers below, it is VERY impractical for portable containment. – James Jenkins Nov 28 '17 at 19:17
9

This may be a contrary position, but I think methane has actually gone out of favour in many parts of the world (definitely in Europe) as propane and butane have become popular.

In fact propane or butane have greater energy by volume and are available at every camping supplies shop.

8

I've never heard of a methane stove for camping but I can give some justification as to why you would not want to use it.

  • Since methane has a much higher vapor pressure at room temperature than e.g. propane or butane, you cannot reasonably keep it in liquid form without a ridiculously heavy tank. This is the same reason why you can find household propane tanks for grills, but not household methane tanks.
  • If you do keep methane in a tank that you could reasonably bring camping, it won't be liquified, just compressed, which will mean that your payload of methane will be much less than for propane.

In summary, methanol, propane, and butane make good camping fuels because they can easily be liquified or compressed in a light container. Methane, has advantages for household use because of its much lower cost, but only if delivery lines for natural gas are available.

3

Methane is a biogas, so you get it from biological processes that otherwise would escape into the atmosphere.

When you burn methane, you are converting the methane into water and carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, but methane is a more destructive greenhouse gas, so it makes sense to capture and use.

Propane, butane and others also convert to carbon dioxide and water, but these gases are mined. So where as methane is already in the biosphere, using petrol based gases is adding carbon to the biosphere from naturally sequestered sources.

Only real thing you need to know is that you need a different regulator for your gas burning equipment. Methane is a lighter density gas.

I should add that methanol is a perfectly good and sustainable fuel, it is the liquid alcohol form of methane. Methanol although coming from other processes rather than gas capture at least still comes from the biosphere in the form of wood as the usual source.

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    The vast majority of methane also comes from fossil fuel deposits (it's the primary component of natural gas). Only a very small amount is produced from plant waste etc. Additionally, the $\ce{CO2}$ impact of burning methane for cooking whilst trekking or whatever is negligibly small. – bon Dec 9 '15 at 21:00
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    I think that first sentence should read "methane can be a biogas" its not exclusively true that all methane comes from bio resources – user2766 Dec 17 '15 at 13:12
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    Methanol can't really be described as a "form of methane". That's like saying ethanol and acetic acid are form of ethanes (or ethene). Its chemical and physical properties are quite different. – Toby Speight Feb 10 '17 at 14:30

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