Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists have combined biology and 3-D printing to create the first reactor that can continuously produce methanol from methane at room temperature and pressure.
The team removed enzymes from methanotrophs, bacteria that eat methane, and mixed them with polymers that they printed or molded into innovative reactors.
The research, which could lead to more efficient conversion of methane to energy production, appears in the June 15 edition of Nature Communications.
“Remarkably, the enzymes retain up to 100 percent activity in the polymer,” said Sarah Baker, LLNL chemist and project lead. “The printed enzyme-embedded polymer is highly flexible for future development and should be useful in a wide range of applications, especially those involving gas-liquid reactions.”
Advances in oil and gas extraction techniques have made vast new stores of natural gas, composed primarily of methane, available. However, a large volume of methane is leaked, vented or flared during these operations, partly because the gas is difficult to store and transport compared to more-valuable liquid fuels. Methane emissions also contribute about one-third of current net global warming potential, primarily from these and other distributed sources such as agriculture and landfills.
Current industrial technologies to convert methane to more valuable products, like steam reformation, operate at high temperature and pressure, require a large number of unit operations and yield a range of products. As a result, current industrial technologies have a low efficiency of methane conversion to final products and can only operate economically at very large scales
A technology to efficiently convert methane to other hydrocarbons is needed as a profitable way to convert “stranded” sources of methane and natural gas (sources that are small, temporary or not close to a pipeline) to liquids for further processing, the team reported.
The only known catalyst (industrial or biological) to convert methane to methanol under ambient conditions with high efficiency is the enzyme methane monooxygenase (MMO), which converts methane to methanol. The reaction can be carried out by methanotrophs that contain the enzyme, but this approach inevitably requires energy for upkeep and metabolism of the organisms. Instead, the team separated the enzymes from the organism and used the enzymes directly.
The team found that isolated enzymes offer the promise of highly controlled reactions at ambient conditions with higher conversion efficiency and greater flexibility.
“Up to now, most industrial bioreactors are stirred tanks, which are inefficient for gas-liquid reactions,” said Joshuah Stolaroff, an environmental scientist on the team. “The concept of printing enzymes into a robust polymer structure opens the door for new kinds of reactors with much higher throughput and lower energy use.”
The team found that the 3-D-printed polymer could be reused over many cycles and used in higher concentrations than possible with the conventional approach of the enzyme dispersed in solution.
Other Livermore team members include: Jennifer Knipe, Craig Blanchette, Joshua DeOtte, James Oakdale, Amitesh Maiti and Jeremy Lenhardt. The LLNL team collaborated with Northwestern University researchers Sarah Sirajuddin and Professor Amy Rosenzweig.
Learn more: 3-D printed polymer turns methane to methanol
The Latest on: Methane bioreactor
via Google News
The Latest on: Methane bioreactor
- Going meat-free: what are the options? on February 18, 2019 at 8:34 am
Raising livestock contributes massively to greenhouse gas emissions: a CSIRO study published in Nature Climate Change says livestock digestion produces 1.6-2.7 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases each ... […]
- The BioIncredibles 2: iMicrobes is using methane to produce chemicals, and Mikey the Microbe Likes It on December 19, 2018 at 1:40 pm
... routes from methane to a useable form for fuel synthesis while also examining high-productivity methane conversion processes and bioreactor technologies.” Here was the goal: The University of Dela... […]
- Methane to its madness on January 30, 2018 at 4:00 pm
They quickly discovered a methane leak coming from a bioreactor at a local brewery. Von Fisher brought it to the company’s attention, and wound up helping tighten down the fittings that were releasing ... […]
- Biochar could benefit anaerobic digestion of animal manure on January 12, 2018 at 11:50 am
New research by Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists shows biochar has potential to make anaerobic digestion of animal manure a more ... manure more efficient in bioreactors for enhancing breaking d... […]
- Biochar could benefit anaerobic digestion of animal manure on January 5, 2018 at 10:03 am
The article discusses the potential of using biochar as an accelerating material to make anaerobic digestion of dairy manure more efficient in bioreactors for enhancing breaking down wastes and produc... […]
- B.C. researcher develops new method to slash biofuel production times, costs on July 14, 2017 at 5:20 am
KELOWNA, B.C.—A new process partially developed at the University of British Columbia could dramatically improve how bioreactors break down organic material into methane gas. A team of researchers, in... […]
- Let science expand life of Billings landfill on January 28, 2016 at 9:58 pm
To install a bioreactor, a watering system is needed. The additional water will speed up the landfill’s degradation (rotting) process. This process causes increased production of methane and allows fo... […]
- New methane bioreactor produces, stores energy on July 9, 2015 at 2:58 pm
A new methane bioreactor, developed in the Natural Resources Institute Finland boosts environmentally friendly energy to the markets. The reactor stores renewable energy and produces synthetic biometh... […]
- New methane bioreactor produces environmentally friendly energy and mitigates climate change on June 15, 2015 at 5:00 pm
A new methane bioreactor, developed in the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) boosts environmentally friendly energy to the markets. The reactor stores renewable energy and produces synthetic ... […]
- Just add water: AZ pushes for 'bioreactor landfills' on December 28, 2012 at 11:03 pm
A bioreactor landfill requires a minimum of 40 percent liquids ... "Could we take some of that water and mix it with trash and start the methane decomposition sooner?" he asked. "If ADEQ or EPA allows ... […]
via Bing News