Left: Lake Maggiore, Italy
In 1776, Alessandro Volta (click here) ran some experiments on combustible air that was reported to him by a friend, Father Carlo Campi. On a little boat in Lake Maggiore he started to poke and stir the bottom of an area covered with reeds. Upon doing this, Volta noticed a lot of air emerging and decided to collect some in a large glass container. Upon analysis of the air he noted that it burned a beautiful blue flame. It wasn't for nearly a century that firm evidence was collected that showed that the methane formation in these habitats was a microbial process.
The discovery of methanogens helped produce the idea for the kingdom Archaeobacteria, that would include methanogens, some extreme halophiles, and some extreme thermophilic sulfur-dependant organisms....
All this over little microscopic organisms. They are little organisms that produce methane, a dangerous tropospheric greenhouse gas. The reactions below are those found in the natural world, in places like swamps and mogs. But, they are also found in a cultivated place called a rice paddy. These are the reactions that need to be interrupted.
|Reaction||δ Go (kJ/mol CH4)|
|1. 4 CH3OH||→ 3 CH4 + CO2 + 2 H20||-106|
|2. CH3OH +H2||→ CH4 + H2O||-112.5|
|3. 4 CH3NH2 + 2 H2O||→ 3 CH4 + CO2 + 4 NH3||-76.7|
|4. 2 (CH3)2NH + 2 H2O||→ 3 CH4 + CO2 + 2 NH3||-74.8|
|5. 4 (CH3)3N + 6 H2O||→ 9 CH4 + 3 CO2 + 4 NH3||-75.8|
|6. 2 (CH3)2S + 2 H2O||→ 3 CH4 + CO2 + 2 H2S||-52.1|
|7. 4 (CH3)SH + 2 H20||→ 3 CH4 + CO2 + 4 H2S||-51|
|8. (CH3)SH + H2||→ CH4 +H2S||-69.3|
|9. 4 H2 + CO2||→ CH4 + 2 H2O||-130.4|
|10. CH3COO- + H+||→ CH4 + CO2||-36|
|11. 4 CO + 2 H20||→ CH4 + 3 CO2||-211|