Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Lawrence Livermore scientists discover new materials to capture methane

17.04.2013
Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and UC Berkeley and have discovered new materials to capture methane, the second highest concentration greenhouse gas emitted into the atmosphere.

Methane is a substantial driver of global climate change, contributing 30 percent of current net climate warming. Concern over methane is mounting, due to leaks associated with rapidly expanding unconventional oil and gas extraction, and the potential for large-scale release of methane from the Arctic as ice cover continues to melt and decayed material releases methane to the atmosphere. At the same time, methane is a growing source of energy, and aggressive methane mitigation is key to avoiding dangerous levels of global warming.


Methane capture in zeolite SBN. Blue represents adsorption sites, which are optimal for methane (CH4) uptake. Each site is connected to three other sites (yellow arrow) at optimal interaction distance.

The research team, made up of Amitesh Maiti, Roger Aines and Josh Stolaroff of LLNL and Professor Berend Smit, researchers Jihan Kim and Li-Chiang Lin at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, performed systematic computer simulation studies on the effectiveness of methane capture using two different materials - liquid solvents and nanoporous zeolites (porous materials commonly used as commercial adsorbents).

While the liquid solvents were not effective for methane capture, a handful of zeolites had sufficient methane sorption to be technologically promising. The research appears in the April 16 edition of the journal, Nature Communications.

Unlike carbon dioxide, the largest emitted greenhouse gas, which can be captured both physically and chemically in a variety of solvents and porous solids, methane is completely non-polar and interacts very weakly with most materials.

"Methane capture poses a challenge that can only be addressed through extensive material screening and ingenious molecular-level designs," Maiti said.

Methane is far more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2. Researchers have found that the release of as little as 1 percent of methane from the Arctic alone could have a warming effect approaching that being produced by all of the CO2 that has been pumped into the atmosphere by human activity since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

Methane is emitted at a wide range of concentrations from a variety of sources, including natural gas systems, livestock, landfills, coal mining, manure management, wastewater treatment, rice cultivation and a few combustion processes.

The team's research focused on two different applications -- concentrating a medium-purity methane stream to a high-purity range (greater than 90 percent), as involved in purifying a low-quality natural gas; and concentrating a dilute stream (about 1 percent or lower) to the medium-purity range (greater than 5 percent), above methane's flammability limit in air.

Through an extensive study, the team found that none of the common solvents (including ionic liquids) appears to possess enough affinity toward methane to be of practical use. However, a systematic screening of around 100,000 zeolite structures uncovered a few nanoporous candidates that appear technologically promising.

Zeolites are unique structures that can be used for many different types of gas separations and storage applications because of their diverse topology from various networks of the framework atoms. In the team's simulations, one specific zeolite, dubbed SBN, captured enough medium source methane to turn it to high purity methane, which in turn could be used to generate efficient electricity.

"We used free-energy profiling and geometric analysis in these candidate zeolites to understand how the distribution and connectivity of pore structures and binding sites can lead to enhanced sorption of methane while being competitive with CO2 sorption at the same time," Maiti said.

Other zeolites, named ZON and FER, were able to concentrate dilute methane streams into moderate concentrations that could be used to treat coal-mine ventilation air.

The work at LLNL was funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

More Information

New materials for methane capture from dilute and medium-concentration sources
Nature Communications, April 16, 2013
A new method to cleaner and more efficient CO2 capture
LLNL news release, July 22, 2009

Dissolving Molecules to Improve Their Performance
Science & Technology Review, June 2009

Hydrocarbons in the deep earth
LLNL news release, April 14, 2011

The Search for Methane in Earth's Mantle
Science & Technology Review, July/August 2005

Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory provides solutions to our nation's most important national security challenges through innovative science, engineering and technology. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.

Anne Stark | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.llnl.gov

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Materials scientist creates fabric alternative to batteries for wearable devices
12.11.2018 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst

nachricht A new path through the looking-glass
12.11.2018 | Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

The dawn of a new era for genebanks - molecular characterisation of an entire genebank collection

13.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Fish recognize their prey by electric colors

13.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Ultrasound Connects

13.11.2018 | Awards Funding

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>