One of the challenges on the way to meeting climate goals is making carbon capture – technology designed to curb CO2 emissions and reduce their impact on global temperatures – more affordable and accessible. And it looks like researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) may have found a way to do just that through methane.
As part of their efforts, they have developed a means to convert captured CO2 emissions into methane, which is the main component of natural gas.
This new method streamlines the conversion process resulting in less energy and materials used to facilitate the reaction. Hence, the selling price of the gas becomes significantly lower.
And the main ingredient in the price-slashing chemical concoction is a solvent developed by PNNL known as EEMPA. EEMPA extracts from flue gas and binds it so it can converted into other chemicals, including methane.
Earlier in 2021, researchers at PNNL found that EEMPA can be used in power plants to cut the costs of carbon capture by nearly 20%, which at this time is as low as it gets. And now their latest findings have revealed a way to lower those costs even further.
Compared to traditional methane conversion technology, the new method’s initial investment cost is 32% cheaper, whereas the costs of operation and maintenance are around 35% lower. The end result is a 12% selling price reduction of synthetic natural gas.
Methane has a range of other applications, as well, including as fuel itself or as a carrier for hydrogen. But as it is a greenhouse gas, strict supply chain management is required to maintain a low carbon footprint.
Furthermore, as the study shows, the reaction is very efficient with EEMPA being able to capture more than 95% of CO2 from flue gas. And the process releases heat, which can provide steam necessary to generate power.
While these findings are great news for PNNL and the world as a whole, the researchers are focused on developing this process further and intend to make it work just as efficiently for the production of methanol, as methanol has even more applications than methane.
Read more about methane emissions: Methane Emissions Will Be Detected By New Satellite