Researchers develop a way to convert carbon dioxide into methane

Researchers from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed a new method allowing them to convert captured carbon dioxide into methane. Methane is a flammable gas and is the primary component of natural gas. The researchers were able to streamline a pre-existing process enabling the conversion of carbon dioxide into methane by reducing the material required to perform the reaction.

The new process also reduces the energy needed to fuel the reaction. By reducing the complexity and cost of conversion, the new process allows the methane produced to be sold at a lower price. Scientists point out a key component of the conversion process is a chemical called EEMPA, which the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory developed.

That particular solvent can capture carbon dioxide from the emissions of power plants binding the pollutant, allowing it to be converted into other useful chemicals. Previously, researchers at the laboratory announced that EEMPA use in power plants could reduce the price of capturing carbon by 19 percent below standard industry costs.

Comparing the new process to conventional methods for converting methane, the new process requires an initial investment that is 32 percent less than existing processes. On top of the lower initial investment, the process also requires 35 percent less operation and maintenance costs. Combined, using this new process, the cost of synthetic natural gas is reduced by 12 percent.

While producing that natural gas is cheaper, the process also prevents some carbon dioxide emissions from polluting the atmosphere where it could contribute to global warming. The study involved investigating the cost of running the new process industrial scale at a 550-megawatt power plant. Scientists on the project note their reaction is highly efficient with the ability to convert more than 90 percent of captured CO