Su Ha and Jean-Sabin McEwen, assistant professors and researchers at Washington State University, have discovered a solution for wasteful methane flaring. McEwen found a picture on the web from space that showed a glowing cluster, which was bigger than Minneapolis.
It turned out from the burning off methane from oil and gas fields, generating as much GHG in one year as 1 mn vehicles could. “It is a huge issue not just because of the wastage of energy, but also due to a high production of CO2,” stated Su Ha, the director of the O.H. Reaugh Laboratory and an associate professor of chemical engineering at a Washington State University. “So the question arises here is: If there is something that one can do better than that?” he added.
McEwen and Ha have come up with a solution to this: a small reactor, which economically breaks methane and water into hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which can be utilized for generating energy and manufacturing various industrial products. Methane, the main component of natural gas, is also the primary byproduct of oil drilling and is also a GHG, which is 34 times more potent than CO2 over the period of a century.
As piping methane away from remote areas is very costly, so energy companies generally burn off nearly one-third of methane gas that is produced in bright flares, which can be seen from the space. The researchers from the U.S. and Russia stated in 2015 that flares around the planet held for 3.5% of the overall natural gas consumption in the world. McEwen and Ha’s solution involves breaking down the methane in the field. They have reported their discovery in the ACS Catalysis journal.