“Catalytic Methanation in the context of Carbon Capture and Utilization” by Markus Lehner, VTiU – Montanuniversity Leoben
Markus Lehner presented the chances and challenges of carbon capture and utilization (CCU) technologies. Process pathways of CO2 utilization divide into fuels & organic Chemicals, working fluids, inorganic materials, and biomass. Chemical routes to value-added products include carbonation, methanation, photocatalytic reactions, and watergas-shift reactions to syngas. The latter enables the production of synthetic fuels, methanol, and ammonia. The greenhouse-gas potential of different power-to-gas (PtG) and power-to-liquid (PtL) products were compared to that of fossil gasoline. The electricity mix in various countries is a decisive parameter. In addition, the energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions of different routes to hydrogen production, like electrolysis, steam reforming, and methane pyrolysis were investigated.
An important enabler of CCU is the cost of CO2 extraction. For a meaningful comparison of different rouse, complete life cycle analyses must be carried out.
Böhm H, Lehner M and Kienberger T: (2021) Techno-Economic Assessment of Thermally Integrated Co-Electrolysis and Methanation for Industrial Closed Carbon Cycles. Front. Sustain. 2:726332. doi: 10.3389/frsus.2021.726332
“Catalyst design for the direct electrocatalytic CO2 reduction reaction (e-CO2RR)” by Wolfgang Schöfberger, Schöfberger Lab – JKU Linz
In his talk Wolfgang Schöfberger pointed out the theoretical basis of the electrocatalytic conversion of CO2 from industrial off-gases to value-added chemicals. Prioritized are syngas (H2 and CO), formic acid, and methanol. Methane, ethanol, and ethylene are accessible as well, yet require higher energy input. In the ideal case, the required energy is provided completely from renewable sources. In his group at JKU, the synthesis of sustainable catalysts is investigated as well as electrochemical cells to prove their efficiency and stability. Among the key components are gas-permeable, electrically conductive metal-polymere electrodes with a high internal surface. The gaseous or liquid products are analysed with high-end methods such as NMR spectroscopy.
Schoefberger Lab | Institut für Organische Chemie (jku.at)
3864. Gonglach, S. Paul, M. Haas, F. Pillwein, S. S. Sreekumar, S. Barman, R. De, S. Müllegger, P. Gerschel, U.-P. Apfel, H. Coskun, A. Aljabour, P. Stadler, W. Schöfberger*, and S. Roy*, Nat. Commun. 2019, 3864.
„Methanation in the steel industry “ by Irmela Kofler, K1-MET and Nina Kieberger, voestalpine
Irmela Kofler and Nina Kieberger presented the talk about methanation in the steel industry.
In order to enable decarbonization, especially changes in the steel industry must take place, however these are only possible in stages. K1-MET and voestalpine are involved in various projects such as RFCS Research Project for achieving this goal. The project includes an integrated and intelligent upgrade of carbon sources through hydrogen addition for the steel industry and the re-utilization and upgrade of fossil by-product gases in integrated steelworks. Moreover, dynamic synthesis (methane, methanol) should be added in an integrate steelwork in combination with renewable hydrogen. In the steel industry the conventional blast furnace must be replaced with an electric arc furnace to enable a climate-neutral production. However, the electric arc furnace requires an electricity need of 28 TWh, which cannot be covered by renewable energies alone, especially in the winter months. Therefore, in the project C-CED is worked on energy storage with project coordinator RAG Austria AG and partners like WIVA P&G. Here, carbon from the industry and hydrogen are fed into the gas storage. Then, methane is produced by biological geo-methanation, which can be used in industry afterwards. K1-MET and voestalpine are also working on other projects, such as LOCON (Low Energy CO2 Conversion and Utilization).
„Techno-economic potential of methanation “ by Hans Böhm, Energieinstitut a. d. JKU Linz
The Energy Institute at the JKU Linz deals with energy management, energy law and energy technical issues by relying on scientific principles that are researched and treated in-house. During this activity, Hans Böhm tinker with the topic “Techno-economic potential of methanation”. In the well-founded calculation of the ecological and economic effects of the methanation process, both different methanation methods and the production of the required gases (CO2 and H2) were considered. Both catalytic and biological methanation mainly benefit from the upscaling effect, in contrast to the learning curve effect, where the cost reduction potential for biological methanation is significantly higher. In the long run both methods have a similar cost level. Much more interesting, however, is the upscaling and learning curve effect of electrolysis, which is required as the H2 source of methanation plants. Here the cost reduction is particularly significant for PEM electrolysis and HT electrolysis, with the first one being the cheapest in the long term. In contrast to the learning curve effect of the alkaline electrolysis, where only a small short-term cost reduction can be expected. From an economic point of view, the source of the required CO2 will not matter if the CO2 price is not drastically increased. So, the limiting factor for methanation is not the CO2 but the availability of green hydrogen. In order to gain as much energy as possible in the various process steps, the waste heat from the power-to-methane process should definitely be taken into account. All in all, there is a lot of potential in climate-neutral methanation processes, but there are many factors to consider and the initial investment costs should not be underestimated.
„Underground Sun Conversion – Geo-Methanation at a depth of 1,000 m “ by Benedikt Hasibar, RAG Austria AG
RAG Austria AGs target is a flexible energy conversion and storage, which should be adapted to the challenges of the future energy system.
Seasonal Storage is necessary for a transformation of the energy system and sector coupling is only possible by large-volume energy storage. Therefore, the company conducted research on the already completed projects “Underground Sun Storage” and “Underground Sun Conversion” and further develops the technologies in other projects like “Underground Sun Storage 2030”, “Underground Sun Conversion – Flexible Storage” and “Carbon – Cycle Economy Demonstration”.
The test storage facility of the project “Underground Sun Conversion – Flexible Storage” is located in Pilsbach in Upper Austria. The technical plant consists of a 0,5 MW electrolyser, which produces 100 Nm3 hydrogen per hour, a CO2 tank and a gas drying system. After the production of the renewable hydrogen, it is brought into a porous storage with carbon dioxide. The porous reservoirs are covered by hundreds of meters of argillaceous rock and have a working gas volume of 1.7 million Nm3. Subsequently, the proven biological geo-methanation takes place here. Biological geo-methanation is a conversion process to generate methane using microorganisms, so called Archaea, which have been active in the deposit for millions of years.
“Project Renewable Gasfield “ by Klaus Neumann, Energie Steiermark
Klaus Neumann presented the project “renewable gasfield “at the methanation workshop. Energie Steiermark is among others active in areas like the implementation of pilot plants on an industrial and private scale and the grid feed-in of green gases into the existing natural gas pipelines.
The WIVA P&G project “renewable gasfield” is coordinated by Energie Steiermark Technik GmbH. The Commissioning is scheduled for the end of 2022 and a regular operation is planned for 2023.
The target of this project is a sustainable production of methane and hydrogen. With the help of electricity from renewable energy sources (PV system with 850 kWp) and water (H2O), an electric electrolyser with 1 MW produces oxygen (O2) and hydrogen (production volume 3.7 mio m3/a) in a ratio of 1:2. The hydrogen (H2) and the carbon dioxide (CO2) from the biogas plant in Gabersdorf will then be used for the methanation (plant with 100 kW). 21,000 m3/a methane (CH4), which is subsequently fed into the natural gas grid, is used with hydrogen for industry and mobility.
“Methanation – an up-to-date insight into technologies and projects” by Robert Böhm, Hitachi Zosen Inova
Hitachi Zosen Inova (HZI) is a Japanese company with roots in Switzerland, which is the global leader in Energy of waste business but has also a focus on renewable gas. These two areas, Energy from Waste and renewable gas, are often linked together. For example, an Energy from Waste plant generates sustainable electricity that is used to power an electrolyser. The hydrogen obtained from this electrolyser is then fed into the methanation plant to produce methane with the help of microbial methanation. The methanation takes place using robust microorganisms (archaea) which act as biological catalysts. The reactor developed by HZI enables very dynamic operation and is fully automated. As part of the workshop about methanation, Robert Böhm gave us a glimpse behind the scenes of HZI. Not only was the mode of operation of the entire plant, and in particular the catalyst, explained to us, but also the path from the first pilot project to large-scale industrial plants. In the meantime, HZI has already set up several catalytic methanation plants, such as the plant for Energie Steiermark in Austria, which will go into operation this year. This plant has an output of 190 kW and can produce up to 10 Nm³ methane per hour. The so far largest plant set up by HZI is located in Japan and has an output of 2.5 MW with a methane production of 125 Nm³/h. The application possibilities in Austria for many more such systems are great and the need awareness is growing every day.
“Biological Methanation – from CO2 and Hydrogen to e-Methan” by Theresa Ahrens, Electrochaea
Electrochaea is an international company specializing in the commercialization of power-to-gas applications. The heart of the company is the production of biomethane with the help of methanorganic archaea. These archaea are single-celled organisms, which are 3.5 billion years old and produce methane, water, and heat from CO2 together with hydrogen. The hydrogen used for this is obtained at Electrochaea with an electrolysis system, which is preferably operated with renewable energy. During her talk, Theresa Ahrens told us about the discovery of the archaea (30 years ago by Carl Woese and Karl Stetter) and how they work, as well as their use in the reactors of the methanation plant. In 2006, Electrochaea started to implement the first experiments with the archaea and was able to start the first pre-commercial field test with a 50 kW system as early as 2013. Since then, the reactors have become more and more efficient and the plants have gotten bigger, so that the construction of a 75 MW plant could start in 2021. But even now, some plants in the range of 0.25 to 1 MWe are in operation and the number is increasing. The impact that Electrochaea’s methanation systems can have on our energy balance should not be underestimated. Resources are reused and CO2 is injected to produce biomethane. Furthermore, by replacing fossil gas with biomethane, CO2emissions are once again drastically reduced. As a result, the process contributes to a reduction in CO2 emissions from the beginning to the end.
“Biological Methanation in the FlaeXMethan /creP2G-System “ by Paul Voithofer, Creonia and Marco Orthofer, JKU Linz
The project name “FlaeXMethan” means “Flexible acide ex-situ Methanation of biogas with renewable hydrogen”. The project consortium is composed of Creonia Innovations, JKU Linz, University of Vienna and BioG.
The project goal is the improvement of the existing biogas plants efficiency and the decarbonization of the biomass electricity.
One way is the processing of the produced biogas and the methanation of the carbon dioxide with renewable hydrogen. Then, this produced biomethane can be fed directly into the gas grid or further processed by plasma methane pyrolysis. Hydrogen and solid carbon are produced from biomethane by methane pyrolysis without the creation of new CO2 emissions.
Small methanation plants are designed in containers which are comparatively inexpensive and can be realised with a low bureaucratic approval.