3 years ago

When immiscible becomes miscible--Methane in water at high pressures

Wilson C. K. Poon, John S. Loveday, Graeme J. Ackland, Ciprian G. Pruteanu

At low pressures, the solubility of gases in liquids is governed by Henry’s law, which states that the saturated solubility of a gas in a liquid is proportional to the partial pressure of the gas. As the pressure increases, most gases depart from this ideal behavior in a sublinear fashion, leveling off at pressures in the 1- to 5-kbar (0.1 to 0.5 GPa) range with solubilities of less than 1 mole percent (mol %). This contrasts strikingly with the well-known marked increase in solubility of simple gases in water at high temperature associated with the critical point (647 K and 212 bar). The solubility of the smallest hydrocarbon, the simple gas methane, in water under a range of pressure and temperature is of widespread importance, because it is a paradigmatic hydrophobe and occurs widely in terrestrial and extraterrestrial geology. We report measurements up to 3.5 GPa of the pressure dependence of the solubility of methane in water at 100°C—well below the latter’s critical temperature. Our results reveal a marked increase in solubility between 1 and 2 GPa, leading to a state above 2 GPa where the maximum solubility of methane in water exceeds 35 mol %.

Publisher URL: http://advances.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/3/8/e1700240

DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700240

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