Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. It's 100% free.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Methane is apparently the most easily available hydrocarbon. It is also a flammable, and highly combustible fuel; does burning methane provide sufficient power-weight to be used to launch artificial satellites and their ilk into Earth Orbit?

share|cite|improve this question
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Probably possible, rockets have been built that used kerosene and even Hydrogen peroxide. Liquid natural gas stores a lot of energy per volume, but hydrogen is very light and so offers a huge amount of energy per kg. And in trying to accelerate your rocket vertically upward at several 'g' it's kg that matter.

Energy density plot

Note: data from

share|cite|improve this answer
Really frustrating that rechargeable batteries are almost at the origin of that diagram... – Alexander Jul 22 '12 at 21:36
@Alexander and diesel is near the top for anything that doesn't need a cryostat ! – Martin Beckett Jul 22 '12 at 21:40
Very useful graph. Thank you! – Everyone Jul 23 '12 at 5:12

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

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