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Methane: Innovation on the Production of Methanol.

Today is Wednesday, October 11, 2023.

Methane, an invisible, odorless gas has more than 80 times the warming power of CO2 in the atmosphere. And natural gas, a common byproduct of oil rigs, is mainly composed by methane and usually burned off on site on an average rate of 200 kg per hour.

Although combusting the gas through a flare significantly reduces the climate impact, the practice isn’t optimal because it wastes fuel that would otherwise be sold and still contributes to global warming because the byproduct of burning it is CO2.

In other words, a waste in the form of a gas much more potent than CO2 in its planet-warming capabilities.

A few weeks ago we reported about the partnership between the Japanese firm Kureha, the Kitami Institute of Technology and the Brazilian Petrobrás, in an innovative project to turn methane from offshore oil rigs into a powder. The powder would then be transported and used to produce carbon nanotubes, a material used in lithium-ion batteries, electronic devices and auto parts.

Today we post about a Florida-based startup M2X Energy, that rather than flaring or venting methane into the atmosphere, developed a mobile system to convert it into methanol, a useful industrial material and fuel. They are basically gas-to-methanol trailers, plants on wheels that could be used in remote oil extraction locations. Once inside the trailer, the engine oxidizes the gas to produce a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide known as syngas. Methanol is produced by passing the syngas over a standard methanol copper zinc oxide catalyst.

Overall, as already indicated, natural gas flaring is both a huge waste of precious energy and a big harm to the environment (through methane slippages). The total natural gas globally flared amounts to 140 billion cubic meters (IEA 2021) resulting in 1.4 GigaTons of CO2 emissions. This represents >2.5% of global CO2 emissions.


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“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

“I am among those who think that science has great beauty”

Madame Marie Curie (1867 - 1934) Chemist & physicist. French, born Polish.

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