Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have made significant progress in finding a solution to reduce methane gas emissions. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, up to 85 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2), and is primarily emitted by human sources, with cattle and fossil fuel production being the largest contributors. In a new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the researchers have successfully developed a method to remove low-concentration methane from the air using light and chlorine.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has identified methane gas emissions as a key factor in global temperature rise. Reducing methane emissions can have an immediate effect on mitigating climate change. To address this challenge, the researchers built a reaction chamber that facilitates a chain reaction of chemical compounds, effectively breaking down methane and removing a significant portion of the gas from the air.
The reaction chamber developed by the researchers has proven to eliminate 58% of methane from the air. The team has since improved their results in the laboratory, achieving methane removal rates of up to 88%. The key ingredient in their discovery is chlorine, which, when combined with light energy, enables the researchers to remove methane from the atmosphere much more efficiently than the natural degradation process, which takes 10-12 years.
The application of this innovative method is particularly relevant for livestock housing, biogas production plants, and wastewater treatment plants, where methane emissions are prevalent. Livestock farms, which are high-tech facilities, already have systems in place to remove ammonia from the air. Integrating the methane removal process into existing air purification systems can provide a practical solution for reducing emissions in these facilities.
In Denmark, methane emissions from biogas and wastewater treatment plants are significant contributors to overall emissions. The researchers conducted a preliminary investigation and found that a large amount of methane leaks into the atmosphere from these plants. Even a small percentage of methane escaping from biogas production can offset the climate gains achieved through its use.
To further develop and optimize their methane removal technology, the researchers will build a larger prototype of the reaction chamber in a 40ft shipping container. This prototype, once connected to the ventilation system in a livestock barn, will serve as a methane cleaner. By targeting point sources of methane emissions, such as livestock housing, the researchers aim to make a significant impact on overall methane reduction.
The research was conducted in collaboration between the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University, Arla, Skov, and the UCPH spin-out company Ambient Carbon. The spin-out company aims to develop and commercialize the Methane Eradication Photochemical System (MEPS) technology, which accelerates the natural degradation process of methane. The researchers achieved this by introducing chlorine molecules into a reaction chamber, shining UV light onto the molecules, and triggering a reaction that breaks down the methane at a rate 100 million times faster than in nature.
The discovery of an efficient method to remove methane from the air is a significant step towards mitigating climate change. Methane, with its high global warming potential, contributes significantly to the greenhouse effect. By targeting human sources of methane emissions and implementing innovative solutions like the MEPS technology, we can make substantial progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the impact of climate change.
Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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