Phase diagram for the methane-ethane system and its implications for titan's lakes

Anna E. Engle, Jennifer Hanley, Shyanne Dustrud, Garrett Thompson, Gerrick E. Lindberg, William M. Grundy, Stephen C. Tegler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


On Titan, methane (CH4) and ethane (C2H6) are the dominant species found in the lakes and seas. In this study, we have combined laboratory work and modeling to refine the methane-ethane binary phase diagram at low temperatures and probe how the molecules interact at these conditions. We used visual inspection for the liquidus and Raman spectroscopy for the solidus. Through these methods, we determined a eutectic point of 71.15 ± 0.5 K at a composition of 0.644 ± 0.018 methane-0.356 ± 0.018 ethane mole fraction from the liquidus data. Using the solidus data, we found a eutectic isotherm temperature of 72.2 K with a standard deviation of 0.4 K. In addition to mapping the binary system, we looked at the solid-solid transitions of pure ethane and found that, when cooling, the transition of solid I-III occurred at 89.45 ± 0.2 K. The warming sequence showed transitions of solid III-II occurring at 89.85 ± 0.2 K and solid II-I at 89.65 ± 0.2 K. Ideal predictions were compared with molecular dynamics simulations to reveal that the methane-ethane system behaves almost ideally, and the largest deviations occur as the mixing ratio approaches the eutectic composition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number118
JournalPlanetary Science Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Geophysics


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