I am in the process of constructing a kitchen waste digester (vegetable/fruits) from which, hopefully, over time adequate methane may be collected to burn. The digester won't be complete for several months yet - a few minutes each week or so.

Anyway, if a high frequency high-voltage field were to be applied to the methane (taking due care to avoid sparks) would the methane decompose into carbon, and hydrogen? A google search seems to indicate that methane may decompose, or form a plasma; I understand there may not be a simple/straight answer for this - but a general direction would be nice to have.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Sounds like a neat project. I think it's definitely on-topic for us here. $\endgroup$
    – jonsca
    Oct 23, 2012 at 6:47

1 Answer 1


To decompose methane molecule you have to apply energy about several electron-volts directly to molecule. Since microwave radiation wavelength measured in millimeters, to really decompose methane you'll need ridiculous voltage, much more them mere kilovolts needed to ignite electrical discharge.

And btw, electrical discharge is the easiest way to supply the energy needed for molecule to break.

  • $\begingroup$ What if instead of increasing the potential we were to pump up the frequency so it is in the RF range? I seem to recall that Energy is directly proportional to the frequency - albeit that last may be out of context ... $\endgroup$
    – Everyone
    Oct 27, 2012 at 5:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Everyone this is point of photochemistry. They usually use ultraviolet range of the electromagnetic spectrum. $\endgroup$
    – permeakra
    Oct 27, 2012 at 11:11

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