Can Methane Act as a Storage Medium for Renewable Energy

(This is brilliant! Storage is the missing link to independent energy. mrjonmoore)
By Dave Levitan
Photo: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in German have demonstrated a novel method of converting the outputs of biogas facilities into methane. The new type of methanation plant can fit inside a standard shipping container, and could be combined with renewable energy production as a means of storing the excess and intermittent supply that is inherent to wind and solar power.

“As conventional methanation processes reach their limits at this point, we have developed a new reactor concept,” said Siegfried Bajohr, the leader of the new project, in a press release. The concept takes the products of biomass gasification—hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide—and uses a nickel catalyst to produce methane and water. The catalysis is done in a “honeycomb catalyst carrier,” already used as catalytic converters in cars, which are “characterized by a high thermal conductivity and mechanical robustness.”

When connected to the electricity grid or production facilities using wind or solar power, this mobile plant can use that power for electrolysis and production of additional hydrogen. That means almost all of the carbon stored in the initial biomass feedstock can be used, and the volume of the biomass plant can double.

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