Transforming methane into biodiesel: promising research in Brazil

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If the carbon dioxide is the first gas which comes to mind when we talk about the global warmingthe methane is also very problematic. The impact on the planet of emissions of this powerful greenhouse gas would even be 25 times higher than that of CO2.

As part of the transition to renewable energiesexploit the methane discharged into theatmosphere therefore becomes a crucial issue for the planet, argue scientists from the Federal University of São Carlos (Brazil). The latter have set up a process which consists of transmitting methane emissions with metals of dispersed transition (notably the copper) to one atmospheric pressure standard very close to that observed at sea level.

In Brazil, methanol plays an essential role in the production of biodiesel and in the chemical industry. The city of Franca, located in the east of the country in the state of São Paulo, has been fueling its vehicles, for example, with the methane emitted by wastewater treatment plants for the past ten years.

And, although the natural gas be considered a combustible fossil fuel, its conversion into methanol emits less carbon dioxide (CO2) than other fuels liquids of the same category, specifies the study published in the journal Chemical Communications.

“In the chemical industry, this conversion takes place through the production ofhydrogen and CO2 in at least two stages and under very high temperature and pressure conditions. Our success in obtaining methanol under mild conditions, while spending lessenergyis a major step forward,” said Ivo Freitas Teixeira, co-author of the study, in a press release.

If the methane tested during the first phases of the trial concerned pure methane, the scientists hope to be able in the near future to take the gas from renewable sources, such as biomassthat is to say the whole of the matter organic (plant and animal) convertible into energy.

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