Household natural gas is injected with a little bit of Ethanethiol to make it a distinctive odor for safety purposes.

But, if it is used to drive cars (*), its odor is sensible and it is annoying.

Is there a way to remove this from the household gas (which is mainly the mix of 90% methane and 10% ethane) on a home budget scale?

My first idea is to have some type of chemicaly which could be inserted into the empty bottle.

(*) In most countries, this can be done legally, although it has to follow relatively strict safety and tax regulations.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ After burning in the engine, there should be little or no odor (except perhaps faint odor from sulfur dioxide), particularly in countries where cars have catalytic converters. Before burning, the odorant is a useful warning of leaks. $\endgroup$ – DrMoishe Pippik Oct 4 '15 at 1:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @DrMoishePippik With thiole in the fuel, your catalytic converter is dead after twenty kilometres. $\endgroup$ – Karl Apr 5 '20 at 9:02

Just an idea: You can pass the gas through a bleach solution that can oxidize the thiol. I have no idea how effective this can be since the human smell is extremely sensitive to ethanethiol (to the scale of parts per billion). One possible set-up (very common in organic labs) is shown in this picture. The end Buchner flask should contain bleach and not HCl. The other conical is a safety measure in case you have suck back of the bleach solution.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ +1 but the real probelm with the question is that nearly any technique is going to be pretty impractical for processing significant amounts of gas in any reasonable home setup. But since you got the ball rolling, let me add my only slightly less impractical "solution" of bubbling the ethanethiol-contaminated gas through liquid mercury to soak up the thiols, forming mercaptides. $\endgroup$ – Curt F. Oct 4 '15 at 2:47
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ To add to practicality issues @peterh has to be prepared in case he fails, he might get a visit from the fire brigade (because of the bad odour). $\endgroup$ – K_P Oct 4 '15 at 9:42
  • $\begingroup$ @CurtF. Organic compounds with mercury and sulfur? Hm-hm, afaik contacting them would cause much worser problems as a little bit of bad odor. $\endgroup$ – peterh - Reinstate Monica Oct 8 '15 at 18:20
  • $\begingroup$ @K_P I won't do anything which could be dangerous. As I know, the odor is only bad if the gas-driven car was constructed badly, but in this case it is really dangerous as well. Thus, the solution is: if the gas car smells, it must be repaired, and not the ethanethiol should be removed. But, the bleach-solution had been surely worked, thus I can accept it. $\endgroup$ – peterh - Reinstate Monica Oct 8 '15 at 18:23
  • $\begingroup$ @peterh So exciting that you tried it and you had good results! If you could give some details how you did it by answering your question, that would be great (I'd upvote it for sure) . Let me add, I was worried that maybe your gas having caught moisture after passing through the aqueous bleach soltn would not be suitable as fuel for an engine. In that case you could add a bottle with a drying agent. But seems to work without it. Also, the fire brigade call has really happened in more than one instances in chemistry departments where a single, even small-scale, experiment was the culprit. $\endgroup$ – K_P Oct 10 '15 at 15:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.