Indian scientists design material that can capture greenhouse gas methane

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New Delhi: In a fight against global warming, a group of scientists at the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), Hyderabad, has designed a hybrid material that can absorb greenhouse gas methane from the atmosphere and convert it to clean hydrogen.

The design also simulated a process of capturing carbon dioxide in-situ and converting it to high purity hydrogen from non-fuel grade bioethanol.

At least 25 percent of today’s warming is driven by methane from human actions. One of the largest methane sources is the oil and gas industry.

Agriculture is the primary source of methane, accounting for roughly 32% of all human-caused methane emissions.

Given the global warming potential of greenhouse gases, scientists are trying to explore innovative methods of absorbing these gases and converting them to useful substances. “New materials that can play the dual role of absorption as well as conversion are the new challenge area for scientists in carbon capture innovation,” said the statement.

The researchers have also fabricated a facility that can further carbon capture and conversion research at the institute.

Based on the modelling and preliminary experimental studies, the facility can carry out sorption enhanced steam methane reforming (SESMR) for high purity H2 production based on the modelling and preliminary experimental studies.

The FBR facility was recently successfully commissioned at CSIR-IICT, Hyderabad, as part of a Mission Innovation Project funded by the Department of Science and Technology to IICT Hyderabad.

It is unique and available for the first time in the country to test the performance of dual functional materials for SESMR in a fluidized bed reactor system.

SESMR offers specific advantages of in-situ CO2 removal through sorbents and thereby overcomes the equilibrium limitations of steam reforming, leading to high purity H2 production.

Potential dual-functional materials identified from theoretical predictions are now being synthesized, and simultaneously, FBR operating conditions are being optimised for existing sorbent/catalyst materials to meet the increasing challenges of carbon capture and utilisation and associated research.

According to the study, methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it reaches the atmosphere. Even though CO2 has a longer-lasting effect, methane sets the pace for warming in the near term.

Methane is the primary contributor to the formation of ground-level ozone, a hazardous air pollutant and greenhouse gas, exposure to which causes 1 million premature deaths every year, as per UNEP.

Methane has accounted for roughly 30 per cent of global warming since pre-industrial times and is proliferating faster than at any other time since record keeping began in the 1980s.

Within the next decade, human-caused methane emissions could be reduced by up to 45 percent.

This would prevent nearly 0.3°C of global warming by 2045, contributing to a 1.5°C global temperature rise and putting the world on track to meet the Paris Agreement targets.

As per a UN study, every year, the subsequent reduction in ground-level ozone would also prevent 260,000 premature deaths, 775,000 asthma-related hospital visits, 73 billion hours of lost labour from extreme heat and 25 million tonnes of crop losses.

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