Future may see the end to ‘gas flaring’ of methane
Gas flaring wastes gas and adds to atmospheric warming
The current practise of flaring off methane that is routine in many gas and oil operations may soon be a thing of the past. Researchers associated with the University of Washington, Pullman, have developed a new technique which makes it far less expensive to convert the methane so that it can be used more easily.
Researchers Jean-Sabin McEwen and Su Ha have tweaked the catalytic reaction to make the conversion more economical.
“Right now, we just waste all those gases,” said Ha. “If we can efficiently and effectively convert methane from shale or gas fields to electric power or useful products, that would be very positive.”
A large percentage of the US methane is currently flared off. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and contributes a large percentage of the world’s atmospheric greenhouse gases. One molecule of the gas contributes over 30 times the warming effect of one molecule of carbon dioxide.
Methane is a useful gas, making up the bulk of natural gas which is used for heating and producing electricity. It is also used to produce many chemicals – chloroform, carbon tetrachloride and methanol are a few.
The groundbreaking research was funded by the American Chemical Society’s Petroleum Research Fund.