by Brooks Hays
Washington (UPI) Aug 1, 2017
Scientists have developed new technology to curb wasteful methane flaring in oil and gas fields.
Space images of North Dakota on an average summer night reveal a state peppered with bright flares. The light emanating from the state's northwest corner isn't evidence of dense urban centers, but of oil and gas fields, where excess methane is burned off.
Methane "flaring" in North Dakota yields as much green house gas in a year as the emissions from a million cars.
"It's a big problem because not only do you waste energy, but you produce CO2," Su Ha, an associate professor of chemical engineering at Washington State University, said in a news release. "So the question is: Is there something you can do better than that?"
Now, there is.
Washington Sate researchers have designed and built a reactor capable of turning water and methane into carbon monoxide and hydrogen, a pair of compounds that can be stored and used for other commercial processes.
Traditional methods for breaking down methane require a lot of water and extremely high temperatures -- and it is an energy intensive process.
The new reactor uses the addition of an electric field to make methane easier to break down, enabling the use of much lower temperatures and an inexpensive nickel catalyst.
"It's like a combination lock," said Ha. "When you apply the right combination, when you apply the electric field with the right strength and right direction, it's like you are applying a combination to a lock and click, it opens."
After methane is broken down, the end products, carbon monoxide and hydrogen, can be used to form synthetic gas, which can be deployed in the production of gasoline or used to power fuel cells in electric cars.
Researchers described their new technology this week in the journal ACS Catalysis.
Washington (UPI) Jul 31, 2017
Norway is the most trustworthy partner for European natural gas and most Germans see the United States as less-than-forthcoming on energy, a survey found. Forsa Institute, one of the leading polling firms in Germany, conducted a survey of public opinion about the regional energy industry on behalf of German energy company Wintershall. The firm has been accused of political bias toward t ... read more
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