Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Speeding the Search for Better Methane Capture

25.04.2013
Like the Roman god Janus, methane presents Earth’s atmosphere with two situational faces.

As the main component of natural gas, methane when burned as a fuel produces less carbon dioxide than the burning of oil or coal, which makes it a plus for global climate change.


Image shows methane capture in zeolite SBN where blue represents optimal adsorption sites for methane uptake and yellow arrow shows interaction distance.

However, pure methane released into the atmosphere via leaks from unconventional oil and gas extraction, coal mining or from the melting of Arctic ice is an even more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, contributing an estimated 30-percent of current net climate warming.

To exploit the good and blunt the bad, effective ways of separating and capturing methane must be found. This presents a huge challenge, however, as methane, unlike carbon, interacts poorly with most other materials, making it difficult to physically capture.

Berend Smit, an international authority on molecular simulations who holds joint appointments with Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division and UC Berkeley, led a computational study that found several promising candidates for methane capture in zeolites, porous minerals widely used as alkane-cracking catalysts in oil refinement. Working with a collaboration that included scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Smit and his colleagues conducted systematic in silico studies on the methane capture effectiveness of two different materials systems, nanoporous zeolites and liquid solvents.
None of the liquid solvents, including ionic liquids, tested as being effective, but from more than 87,000 zeolite structures, candidates were discovered that have sufficient methane sorption capacity and appropriate selectivity to be technologically promising.

“Our computational approach lets us screen hundreds of thousands of candidate structures within days, thus enabling the discovery of novel structures that can serve as the building blocks of real, practical technology,” says Smit, who directs UC Berkeley’s Energy Frontier Research Center. “These screening studies show that nanoporous materials with the right geometric constraints are able to enrich the methane concentration of low quality natural gas and coal-mine ventilation air. The next step is to see whether these in-silico studies can be used to guide the synthesis of these materials.”

The most promising of the zeolite candidates was “SBN,” which has a large number of binding sites that are formed in such a way as to maximize its interactions with methane. This results in what Smit and his colleagues characterize as an “extraordinarily high performance” for concentrating methane from a medium-concentration source to a high concentration. For treating coal-mine ventilation air, in which the methane streams are dilute, the best zeolites were those that feature one-dimensional channels with a diameter that is optimal for methane molecules. Zeolites ZON and FER were identified as prime candidates for this purpose.

Working with Smit on this project were Jihan Kim and Li-Chiang Lin, of Berkeley Lab, and Roger Aines, Amitesh Maiti and Joshuah Stolaroff of LLNL.

Additional Information

A paper describing this work has been published in Nature Communications. The paper is titled “New materials for methane capture from dilute and medium-concentration sources,” and can be accessed here:

http://www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/v4/n4/full/ncomms2697.html

Lynn Yarris | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.lbl.gov

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Multiregional brain on a chip
16.01.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

nachricht Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter
16.01.2017 | Washington State University

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle

17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice

17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>