Best overview: Is CH4 Polar or Nonpolar?

Methane is the simplest organic compound available in nature. Methane has the chemical formula CH4. It is generally called hydrocarbons. Carbon and hydrogen atoms belong to the non-metal family group in the periodic table, possess a high electronegativity value. Students used to ask “Is CH4 polar or nonpolar?”, “CH4 Lewis Structure”, “CH4 molecular geometry”, “CH4 bond angle”, and “CH4 polarity”. In this blog post, we are going to discuss the polarity of CH4 in a detailed manner.

CH4 is commonly appearing at ordinary temperatures and pressures, it exists as a colorless gas with an odorless nature. CH4 contains one carbon and four hydrogen atoms. Methane (CH4) is a very good biofuel available in nature, and it is used as a green fuel and very low carbon emissions in the environment. The carbon atom stays the center of the molecule and the remaining four hydrogens in its surrounding. “Is CH4 polar or nonpolar?”, to answer this question, we need a detailed analysis of the polarity of the CH4 molecule.

Because of the tetrahedral form of methane(CH4). Carbon has atomic number 6 in the modern periodic table and four outermost valence shell electrons. It comes under the carbon family group. Similarly, the four hydrogen atoms have the atomic number one and one outermost valence shell electron.

CH4 molecule is formed by elements of the hydrogen and carbon family groups in the periodic table. When CH4 is exposed to air, it undergoes a combustion reaction very easily that has a distinct rate of combustion and is flammable in nature. Methane (CH4) can be used as a fuel from biological origin.

Is CH4 polar or nonpolar, then? CH4 (methane) is polar due to its tetrahedral geometrical shape caused by the presence of high electronegativity values of carbon and hydrogen atoms. Second, the difference in electronegativity between carbon and hydrogen atoms causes the C-H bonds to become nonpolar, causing the entire CH4 molecule to become nonpolar as well, resulting in a net dipole moment of the CH4 molecule is 0 D.

Best overview: Is CH4 Polar or Nonpolar?

Preparation of CH4

Methane(CH4) is a colorless gas with an odorless form. It is created primarily through methanogenesis. It is the gas phase reaction between, carbon dioxide in the gas phase, and hydrogen in the gas phase. The outcome product is methane also in the gas phase. Initially, car5bon dioxide reacted with hydrogen gas formed methane in the presence of methyl coenzyme M reductase. These reactions are called enzymatic reactions.

The chemical equation of methane bio synthesis in the enzymatic reaction is shown below.

CO2 + 4H2 ——enzyme(methyl coenzyme M reductase)—-> CH4 + 2H2O

Preparation of methane(CH4) from biosynthetic method

CH4 Molar Mass Calculation

CH4 has a molecular mass of 16.04 g/mol, which may be computed as follows.

Mol mass of CH4 = 1 * 12 (atomic mass of C) + 4 * 1(atomic mass of H) += 16.04 g·mol−1.

CH4 molar mass calculation

The chemical composition of the methane molecule is 4 hydrogen atoms and 1 carbon atom in the middle.

Key Points To Consider When Determining The Polarity of CH4 Molecule

When attempting to determine the polarity of the CH4 molecule, a three-step procedure can be used. The first stage is to sketch the CH4 molecule’s Lewis structure; the second step is to determine the CH4 molecule’s geometry, and the final step is to determine the CH4 molecule’s bond polarities (dipole moment) and add them together.

Drawing the CH4 Lewis structure is a method of representing a molecule using a diagram that shows the number of valence electrons and bond electron pairs in the CH4 molecule. The geometry of the CH4 molecule can then be determined using the Valence Shell Electron Pair Repulsion Theory (VSEPR Theory), which stipulates that molecules will adopt a CH4 geometrical formation that the electrons have from one another.

Finally, you must calculate the C-H bond’s strength by adding their bond polarities (dipole moment properties of the CH4 molecule). The carbon-hydrogen bonds in methane(CH4), for example, are polarised toward the more electronegative carbon, and because both bonds have the same magnitude, their sum is zero due to the bond dipole moment of the CH4 molecule, and the CH4 molecule is categorized as a nonpolar molecule.

The molecule of methane(with tetrahedral geometry) is angled at 109 degrees and has a difference in electronegativity value of hydrogen and carbon atom, with hydrogen’s pull being nearly the same as that of carbon. As a result, it has no permanent dipole moment. The equal charge distribution of negative and positive charges causes no dipole moment of CH4 molecule.

CH4 Lewis Structure: Is CH4 polar or nonpolar?

The core central atom is carbon, which is flanked by four hydrogens in its surrounding. Carbon contains four outermost valence electrons, which means it contains four electrons in its outermost shell, whereas hydrogen has one outermost electron. A carbon central atom is required four electrons to complete the octet of the carbon atom. If you want to know about the octet rule of carbon, please see in our previous post.

As a result of this, four hydrogen atoms form covalent bonds with the carbon atom, leaving the carbon atom with no lone pairs. The bond pairs of the four C-H are not repelled by no lone pairs on the carbon central atom. According to VSEPR theory, no electronic repulsion causes the CH4 molecule’s shape to tetrahedral structure, similar to that of the CH3Cl, CH3F, and CH2Cl2.

All C-H bonds of the CH4 molecule are placed in the symmetrical order around the tetrahedral geometry, resulting in the tetrahedral form of the CH4 molecule. Because they generate no electrical repulsion among the CH4 molecule, the CH4 molecule shows tetrahedral geometry.

Electronegative difference calculation CH4 molecule:

When it comes to the electronegativity value of the CH4 molecule, carbon has an electronegativity of 2.55, and hydrogen has an electronegativity of 2.22. The electronegativity difference can be calculated by the following method.

The electronegative value difference between carbon and hydrogen

Electronegativity value of hydrogen = 2.22

Electronegativity value of carbon= 2.55

Difference of electronegativity value between hydrogen and carbon= 2.55 – 2.22 =0.33

Electronegativity difference between C-H bond calculation of CH4 molecule

The C-H bond of the CH4 molecule becomes nopolar in nature due to this difference in electronegativity value, less than 0.5. The C-H bond of the CH4 molecule becomes nonpolar in nature due to this difference in electronegativity value. The power with which an atom can attract bound electron pairs towards its side is known as the electronegativity of the atom.

As a result of this, the dipole moment of the C-H bond is nearly zero, and the dipoles of all C-H bonds are around the tetrahedral geometry. The total dipole moment of the CH4 molecule is calculated to be 0 D. Carbon atoms receive a partial negative charge on it, while hydrogen atoms receive a partial positive charge on it.

CH4 molecule’s electron dot structure is also known as CH4 Lewis structure. It determines the number of outermost valence electrons and the electrons involved in the formation of the CH4 molecule’s bonds. When discussing the Lewis structure of the CH4 molecule, it is necessary to understand the outermost valence electrons of CH4.

Carbon is the middle element of the molecular geometry, with 4 electrons in its outermost valence electron shell, while the hydrogen atom is the outermost valence electron shell, with one electron.

As a result of this above explanation, the CH4 molecule contains a total of 8 valence electrons. The four hydrogen atoms establish covalent connections with the central carbon atom, leaving the carbon atom with no lone pairs on it.

No lone pairs of central carbon atom cause repulsion with C-H bond pairs, causing the tetrahedral geometry and the shape of the molecules to like that of the chloroform (CH3Cl) molecule. The H-C-H bond has a bond angle of roughly 109 degrees. C -H bond has a bond length of 108 pm (picometer).

To sketch the CH4 Lewis structure by following these instructions:

Step-1: Determine the total number of outermost valence shell electrons in the CH4 molecule. The first step is to figure out how many outermost valence shell electrons there are in the CH4 Lewis structure. A valence electron is one of an atom’s outermost shell electrons. In the CH4 Lewis diagram, it is represented by dots. The central carbon atom of the CH4 molecule can be represented as follows

Look for the periodic group of each atom in CH4 to determine its valence electron. Carbon and hydrogen are both members of the carbon and hydrogen family, which are the 1st and 14th groups in the periodic table respectively. Carbon and hydrogen have four and one valence electrons in their outermost shell respectively.

Because carbon and hydrogen belong to the carbon and hydrogen family group in the periodic table, their valence electrons are four and one respectively.

Total outermost valence shell electron of carbon atom in CH4= 4

Total outermost valence shell electron of hydrogen atom in CH4= 1

The CH4 molecule has one central carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms. Then the total outermost valence shell electrons can be calculated as follows

∴ Total outermost valence shell electrons available for CH4 Lewis structure( dot structure) = 4 +4*1= 8 valence electrons  in CH4    

calculation of total valence electron of CH4 molecule

Step-2: Locate the atom with the least electronegative charge and place it in the center of the CH4 molecular geometry. In this phase, we’ll select the least electronegative atom in the CH4 molecule to place in the CH4 Lewis structure diagram’s center. In the periodic table, the electronegativity value increases in order from left to right and decreases in order from top to bottom in periodic groups.

As a result, hydrogen is the first atom in the hydrogen family group in the periodic table. carbon comes first in the carbon family group. A hydrogen atom has a lower electronegative value than a carbon atom. Furthermore, because carbon is the most electronegative element in the CH4 molecule, hydrogen has the limitation of one electron. The carbon atom can be the central atom in a CH4 Lewis structure diagram. As a result of this, place carbon at the center of the CH4 Lewis structure, with all four hydrogens placed around the tetrahedral geometry.

Step-3: Use four single bonds (C-H) to connect the outside and core atoms in the CH4 molecule. Connect all outside four hydrogen atoms to the core central carbon atom of the CH4 molecule with four single bonds in this stage.

Count how many outermost valence shell electrons we’ve used so far in the CH4 structure. Because each carbon atom is connected to four hydrogen atoms by four C-H bonds, each connection contains two electrons. Those are called bond pairs.

So, from the total of 8 valence electrons available for the CH4 Lewis structure, we employed 8 electrons for four single (C-H) bonds in the CH4 molecule. There are no valence electrons left in the CH4 molecule. We have no need to place the excess electron in CH4 molecular geometry.

Step-4: Starting with the central carbon and three hydrogen atoms in the CH4 molecule, place the valence electrons in the C-H bond pairs. We always start inserting valence electrons from the central carbon atom first in the CH4 Lewis structure diagram. As a result, first, wrap around the bond pair valence electrons on the central carbon atom.

To complete its octet, carbon requires 8 electrons in its outermost valence shell. With the help of the four single bonds, Carbon already shares eight electrons.

In the CH4 molecule structure above, we’ve put 8 electrons around the central carbon atom, represented by a dot. As the carbon atom has 8 electrons in its outermost valence shell, the carbon atom comfortably completes its octet stability in the CH4 molecule.

Using the CH4 Lewis structure, count how many outermost valence shell electrons have been consumed so far. In the CH4 molecular structure, 8 electrons are represented as dot structure, whereas four single bonds each contain 2 electrons. As an outcome of the calculation, the outermost valence shell electrons of the CH4 molecule are 4 + 4= 8.

So far, we’ve used 8 of the total 8 outermost valence shell electrons available for the CH4 Lewis structure.

Best overview: Is CH4 Polar or Nonpolar?

Step-5: Complete central carbon atom octet and use covalent bond if necessary. In the CH4 Lewis structure, carbon is the central atom and it is connected with four single bonds (C-H) to the hydrogen atoms. It means it already sharing 8 electrons with the help of 4 single bonds. So, carbon is obeying the rule of the octet as 8 electrons around it.

What are CH4 electron and molecular geometry?

CH4 has a tetrahedral molecular geometry and CH4 like electron geometry, according to the VSEPR theory. Because the core central atom, carbon, has four C-H bonds with the surrounding four hydrogen atoms. In the tetrahedral geometry, the H-C-H bond forms a 109 -degree angle. Because four hydrogen atoms are in the CH4 molecule, they form a tetrahedral shape.

Top of the tetrahedral geometry, there are four C-H bonds. It maintains the tetrahedral-like form after connecting the four hydrogens in the tetrahedral form. The C-H bonds are surrounded in the CH4 tetrahedral geometry.

Because of the no lone pairs of electrons in the central carbon atom of CH4, it gives tetrahedral electron geometry. But the CH4 molecular geometry is a tetrahedral form in nature. It is the asymmetrical geometry of the CH4 molecule. That makes, CH4 molecule is nonpolar.

How to find CH4 molecular geometry

  1. Determine the number of lone pairs on the CH4 Lewis structure’s core carbon atom.
    We need to figure out how many lone pairs there are on the central carbon atom of the CH4 Lewis structure because the lone pairs on carbon are primarily responsible for the CH4 molecule geometry distortion.

Use the formula below to find the lone pair on the CH4 molecule’s central carbon atom.

L.P(C) = V.E(C) – N.A(C-H)/2


Lone pair on the central carbon atom = L.P(C)

The core central carbon atom’s valence electron = V.E(C)

Number of C-H bonds = N.A (C-H)

calculation for carbon atom lone pair in CH4 molecule

In the case of CH4, the center atom, carbon, has four outermost valence shell electrons and four connections of the C-H bond.

As a result of this, L.P(C) = (4 –4)/2=0

The lone pair on the central carbon atom of the CH4 electron geometry structure is equal to zero. It means, the central carbon atom contains zero lone pairs.

  1. Determine the number of CH4 molecular hybridizations.
    How to find the hybridization of the CH4 molecule?. Now we need to figure out what CH4’s molecular hybridization number is.

The formula of CH4 molecular hybridization is as follows:

No. Hyb of CH4 = N.A(C-H bonds) + L.P(C)

No. Hy of CH4= the number of hybridizations of CH4

Number of C-H bonds = N.A (C-H bonds)

Lone pair on the central carbon atom = L.P(C)

Calculation for hybridization number for CH4 molecule

Carbon, then, is a central atom with four hydrogen atoms linked to it and no lone pairs in the CH4 molecule. Then the number of hybridization of CH4(No. Hyb of CH4) can be calculated as follows

No. Hyb of CH4= 4+0 =4

The number of hybridization for CH4 molecule is four. one S orbital, and three p orbitals combine together to form the sp3 hybridization.

3. Use VSEPR theory to determine CH4 molecular geometry shape

When the VSEPR theory is utilized to calculate the shape of the CH4 molecule, the AXN approach is typically used.

The AXN notation is as follows:

The center carbon atom in the CH4 molecule is denoted by the letter A.

The bound pairs (C-H ) of electrons to the core atom are represented by X.

The lone pairs of electrons on the center carbon atom are denoted by the letter N.

Notation for CH4 molecular geometry


We know carbon is the center atom with four bound (four C-H) pairs of electrons and zero lone pairs. because of the CH4 Lewis structure. CH4 has the general molecular geometry formula AX4.

If the molecule has an AX4 generic formula, the molecular geometry will be tetrahedral and the electron geometry will be tetrahedral, according to the VSEPR theory.

Name of MoleculeMethane
Chemical molecular formulaCH4
Molecular geometry of CH4Tetrahedral
Electron geometry of CH4Tetrahedral
Hybridization of CH4Sp³
Bond angle (H-C-H)109º degree
Total Valence electron for CH48
The formal charge of CH4 on carbon0

How to calculate the formal charge in CH4 Lewis Structure?

The formal charge on the carbon central atom of the CH4 molecule often represents the actual charge on that carbon central atom. The formal charge will be found on the central carbon atom of the CH4 Lewis dot structure in the following calculation.

To calculate the formal charge on the central carbon atom of CH4 molecule by using the following formula:

The formal charge on the carbon atom of CH4 molecule= (V. E(C)– L.E(C) – 1/2(B.E))

V.E (C) = Valence electron in carbon atom of CH4 molecule

L.E(C) = Lone pairs of an electron in the carbon atom of the CH4 molecule.

B.E = Bond pair electron in C atom of CH4 molecule

calculation of formal charge on carbon atom in CH4 molecule

We have 4 valence electrons, 0 lone pair electrons, and eight bonding electrons in the carbon central atom (four single bonds attached to hydrogens) of the CH4 molecule. Now put these value of the carbon atom in the above formula

Formal charge on carbon atom of CH4 molecule = (4- 0-(8/2)) =0

The formal charge on central carbon atom of CH4 Lewis structure is zero.

Lewis structure of some other related post in this blog. See more detail by clicking on it, H2OBeCl2SF4NH3XeF4, BF3BrF3BrF5SO3SCl2PCl3H2SNO2+HBrCS2, SO2, CH3F, HCl, and CH2Cl2 molecules.

The dipole moment of CH4

The dipole moment of the CH4 molecule can assist us in determining the polarity’s strength. The polarity of any molecule is proportional to its dipole moment. Because the form of CH4 is asymmetric. The dipole moment of CH4 does not cancel each other as a result of this.

The dipole moment of the C-H bond of CH4 can be calculated as follows

D(C-H) = Q(C-H) * R(C-H)

D(C-H) = Dipole moment of C-H bond in CH4 molecule

Q(C-H) = Charge distribution in C and H atom of CH4 molecule

R(C-H)= Bond length of C-H bond in CH4 molecule

Dipole moment of C-H bond of CH4 molecule

Net dipole moment of CH4 molecule is 0 D.

Why is CH4 a polar molecule?

Due to the existence of no lone pairs on the central carbon atom, the methane (CH4) molecule has a tetrahedral geometrical form. According to the VSEPR hypothesis, no lone pairs and bond pairs repel each other, causing four C-H bonds to around the tetrahedral molecular structure in a symmetrical manner, resulting in a CH4 tetrahedral molecule.

The dipole moment of the C-H bond does cancel out as it does in symmetric CH4 molecules. Even though the dipole moment of the C-H bond is near zero. CH4 has a dipole moment of 0 D across the entire molecule. The formation of a polar molecule is caused by the geometrical structure and the difference in electronegativity value of atoms in the CH4 molecule.

Because of the asymmetric shape of the CH4 molecule, the charge is dispersed uniformly among the carbon and hydrogen atoms, resulting in the formation of positive and negative electron density clouds across the CH4 molecule.

Properties of CH4 molecule

The properties of CH4 molecule are listed below

  • Methane is one of the most significant greenhouse gases, with human activity accounting for over 70% of methane emissions.
  • Methane gas is also one of the greenhouse gas responsible for global warming and climate change.
  • Pure methane is a high-energy feedstock with a 55.7 MJ/kg energy density that is used to generate power, heat homes, and cook.
  • The chemical formula for methane is CH4.
  • The molar mass of methane is 16.04 g/mol.
  • The density of methane is 0.656 kg/m³.
  • The boiling point of methane is −161.50 °C.
  • The melting point of methane is −182.5 °C.
  • The specific gravity of methane is 0.554, making it lighter than air.
  • It is weakly soluble in water.
  • It easily burns in the air, producing carbon dioxide and water vapor; the flame is pale, slightly bright, and quite hot.

Uses of CH4 molecule

The uses of CH4 molecule are listed below

  • Methane is a major source of hydrogen as well as a number of organic compounds.
  • At high temperatures, methane combines with steam to produce carbon monoxide and hydrogen, the latter of which is used to make fertilizers, organic solvents, and flammable materials.
  • Methanol, chloroform, carbon tetrachloride, and nitromethane are some of the other useful compounds generated from methane.
  • Carbon black is produced by the incomplete combustion of methane, and it is commonly utilized as a reinforcing ingredient in rubber used in automotive tires as fillers.
  • Methane is used as a fuel in vehicles, ovens, and water heaters.

Conclusion

Methane (CH4) is a gas made up of one carbon and four hydrogen atoms in the tetrahedral molecular geometry. Because carbon is more electronegative than hydrogen, it attracts electrons and gets a partial negative charge, whereas other elements obtain a partial positive charge in the electron density cloud of the CH4 molecule.

The polarity of the CH4 molecule is due to the difference in electronegativity of the atoms. The electronegativity difference value of carbon and hydrogen atom is less than 0.5. That makes, CH4 molecule more nonpolar in nature.

CH4 molecule is sp3 hybridized and tetrahedral structure. The H-C-H bond angle of the CH4 molecule is 109 degrees. C-H bond length of CH4 molecule is 108 pm. It is commonly used as natural gas. Because of its low emission of carbon, during the combustion reaction.

If you have any queries and doubts on CH4 polarity post, please leave the comment. we will get back to you as soon as possible.

FAQ on “Is CH4 polar or nonpolar?”

Is methane considered a fossil fuel?

Volatile materials with low carbon-to-hydrogen ratios (like methane), liquids (like petroleum), and practically pure carbon-composed non-volatile materials (like anthracite coal) are all examples of fossil fuels. In hydrocarbon fields, methane can be found alone, in conjunction with oil, or in the form of methane clathrates.

What's the most common source of methane gas?

Methane is generated during the production and transportation of coal, natural gas, and oil. Livestock and other farming activities, as well as the degradation of agricultural waste in urban solid waste landfills, all contribute to methane emissions.

Is it possible to extract methane from the atmosphere?

After that, the bacteria can be employed to capture methane from the atmosphere. Because of its high effectiveness as a greenhouse gas, Boucher and Folberth argue that eliminating methane could be more cost-effective than carbon capture, even if the solutions are more expensive.

Is methane gas dangerous to people?

Methane is non-toxic on its own, but when combined with other gases, it can be lethal. Methane causes asphyxiation by displacing oxygen. It can produce dizziness and headaches, but these symptoms are often undetected until the brain sends a signal to the body that it is gasping for breath.

What makes methane gas so harmful to the environment?

If methane leaks into the air before being consumed due to a leaky pipe, it absorbs the sun’s heat and warms the environment. For this reason, it’s referred to as a greenhouse gas, similar to carbon dioxide.

The polarity of the molecules

The polarity of the molecules are listed as follows

Lewis Structure and Molecular Geometry

Lewis structure and molecular geometry of molecules are listed below

External Reference:

Information on methane

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