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Thread: The Methane Economy, CH4 instead of H2

  1. #1 The Methane Economy, CH4 instead of H2 
    Time Lord
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    Hydrogen in its raw form has a lot of problems for shipping and storage. The best hope for it become a practical fuel alternative is to find a way to package it with some other chemical, and CH4 is looking like the front runner among possibilities. Since Wild Cobra brought this up in the other thread about NH3, I feel like this option deserves its own thread.

    A power plant in a remote location too far away to be able to send energy via power lines, can use electricity to separate H2 out of ordinary water using electrolysis, and then combine the H2 with Carbon from ordinary CO2 in the air using a process called the Sabatier Process.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabatier_process
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    This has a great advantage in terms of CO2 emissions in that every time the fuel is created, an equal amount of CO2 is taken out of the air to what will be created when the fuel is ultimately burned, making it basically a zero emissions process. And also, a couple of processes exist to convert Methane into ordinary gasoline, so existing automobiles can burn it.

    Natural Gas to Gasoline - Technology Review
    Fischer


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  3. #2  
    Time Lord
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    Now, imagine if the government were able to create incentives to stockpile this.

    It would be like Diamond companies in Europe that stockpile diamonds to keep them off the market, so the price will remain high. They can turn around and use those stockpiled diamonds as collateral to secure low interest loans, which they then invest and make a small profit while the diamonds are in storage. Energy is a universally exchangeable commodity (even moreso than diamonds), so saving up CH4 is better than money in the bank.

    Another advantage nationally is that if OPEC decides to spike the price of oil, CH4 stockpilers might decide to undercut them and start selling some of their stock off at a lower price. They could smash oil sales over a given quarter if they have enough stored up, and that would certainly inflict some pain.





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  4. #3  
    cere-bum random's Avatar
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    Methane has an advantage of having a ready made infrastructure: NG pipelines.
    Y'know, just saying.

    It means we'd have to add more wind turbines and possibly use nukes...I'd rather avoid nukes if possible, even the salt-cooled Thorium cycle ones.
    But I saw something about this last winter and thought "Oooh!"
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  5. #4  
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    In Oregon right now where I live, we're in the ironic situation of having a power surplus. There was more rain than expected last year, so the dams along the Columbia river are being forced to let more water go through them than the power needs of the surrounding area. It really sucks for this company that built a large number of huge wind mills along the Columbia Gorge. Nobody is going to be consuming their power this year.

    Northwest power surplus may halt wind energy.

    It's just a shame to see that much electricity going to waste.
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  6. #5  
    Forum Professor Wild Cobra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    In Oregon right now where I live, we're in the ironic situation of having a power surplus. There was more rain than expected last year, so the dams along the Columbia river are being forced to let more water go through them than the power needs of the surrounding area. It really sucks for this company that built a large number of huge wind mills along the Columbia Gorge. Nobody is going to be consuming their power this year.

    Northwest power surplus may halt wind energy.

    It's just a shame to see that much electricity going to waste.
    A surplus with LA sucking us dry through the Pacific DC Intertie?

    On a side note, I've lived in Oregon all my life except when I served. I live in Portland right now.
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  7. #6  
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    If you've driven down the Columbia Gorge lately, you've probably seen all those really huge wind mills on the hills around it. According to the article, those wind mills are being instructed to shut down. So, must be even LA isn't draining us enough to use it all.

    In this photo taken Thursday, May 12, 2011, shows wind turbines along the Columbia River Gorge near Goldendale, Wash. The manager of most of the electricity in the Pacific Northwest is running such a surplus of power from hydroelectric dams that it put wind farms on notice Friday they may be shut down as early as this weekend. A cold, wet spring in the headwaters of the Columbia River Basin is sending downstream one of the largest spring flows in years. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

    That really does put it in perspective, though. If even supplying LA isn't enough to use all that power, we must really really really have a lot of it.
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  8. #7  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    To Kojax

    If methane gas is found in itself to be inconvenient, it is easy to convert it one stage further, to liquid petroleum, which can be used in today's cars without modification.
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  9. #8  
    Forum Professor Wild Cobra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    If you've driven down the Columbia Gorge lately, you've probably seen all those really huge wind mills on the hills around it. According to the article, those wind mills are being instructed to shut down. So, must be even LA isn't draining us enough to use it all.

    In this photo taken Thursday, May 12, 2011, shows wind turbines along the Columbia River Gorge near Goldendale, Wash. The manager of most of the electricity in the Pacific Northwest is running such a surplus of power from hydroelectric dams that it put wind farms on notice Friday they may be shut down as early as this weekend. A cold, wet spring in the headwaters of the Columbia River Basin is sending downstream one of the largest spring flows in years. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

    That really does put it in perspective, though. If even supplying LA isn't enough to use all that power, we must really really really have a lot of it.
    Yes, the changes in landscape aren't very beautify. As for the power lines to LA, I will assume they've been operating at 100%. maybe they need to increase the 3.1 GWatt capacity to something a bit higher.
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  10. #9  
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    I see your point re methane but reading the second citation - I didn't see an easy application of methane as feedstock. They didn't detail the reaction but did observe natural gas would be converted to acetylene. Doesn't appear so easy to produce acetylene from single carbon methane as from C4 butane or C3 propane. Do you have more info on this?
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  11. #10  
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    Yeah. The bottom link in my first post that says "Fischer" details the process a little bit more. Here it is again:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fischer-Tropsch_process
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    Actually, what they do first is convert the CH4 into CO and Hydrogen

    H2O + CH4 → CO + 3 H2

    Then, they can use the CO (Carbon Monoxide) and H to form pretty much any Hydrocarbon they want.

    (2n+1) H2 + n CO → CnH(2n+2) + n H2O


    Also, I started another thread talking about how you can get CO directly from Hydrogen and CO2, which would save a step in the whole process.

    The Methanol Economy. 2 CH3OH instead of H2

    The way to get the CO directly is described in this link:

    Reverse Water-Gas Shift Reaction - Marspedia

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