Source – NGV Global
Tuesday, 02 December 2008 23:31
United Kingdom, Liverpool
Chemists at the University of Liverpool have reportedly developed a way of converting methane gas into a powder form, effectively creating methane hydrates, in order to make it more transportable. The material, made out of a mixture of silica and water, can soak up large quantities of methane molecules. It looks and acts like a fine white powder which the chemists say might be easily transported or used to power clean vehicles, according to a University press release.
Professor Andy Cooper, Director of the Centre for Materials Discovery at the University’s Department of Chemistry, explains that due to its gaseous state at room temperature, methane is difficult to transport from its source. “Many natural gas reserves are geographically remote and can only be extracted via pipelines, so there is a need to look for other ways to transport the gas. It has been suggested that methane gas hydrate could be used as a way of containing methane gas for transportation.
“The disadvantage of methane gas hydrate for industry use is that it is formed at a very slow rate when methane reacts with water under pressure. To counteract these difficulties we used a method to break water up into tiny droplets to increase the surface area in contact with the gas. We did this by mixing water with a special form of silica – a similar material to sand – which stops the water droplets from coalescing. This ‘dry water’ powder, able to be economically produced from cheap raw materials, soaks up large quantities of methane quite rapidly at around water’s normal freezing point.”
Chemists at Liverpool are now investigating ways to store larger quantities of methane gas at higher temperatures and lower pressures as part of a project funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).