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 Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot
21.07.2017 | Stanford University

nachricht Team develops fast, cheap method to make supercapacitor electrodes
18.07.2017 | University of Washington

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: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>