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
- Producing RNG through power-to-gas technologyon September 26, 2019 at 6:31 am
Outside NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF), where pipes carrying hydrogen line the exterior of the building, is a 25-foot tall cylindrical bioreactor system is now converting hydrogen ...
- New algae-based bioreactor can swallow carbon dioxide 400x faster than treeson September 18, 2019 at 1:56 am
It represents around 72% of the total, compared to 18% methane and 9% nitrous oxide ... [Our research led us to utilize] algae and A.I. to create the Eos Bioreactor, a prototype bioreactor that can ...
- Colonies of microbes make ‘clean’ methaneon July 26, 2019 at 5:00 pm
The Stanford and Penn State team is taking a “greener” approach to methane production. Instead of drilling rigs and pumps, the scientists envision large bioreactors filled with methanogens—single-cell ...
- Scientists Zero in on Trees as a Surprisingly Large Source of Methaneon June 24, 2019 at 3:54 am
This delivery, known as rhizodeposition, provides the essential raw materials for methane-generating micro-organisms that congregate among the trees’ roots. “Trees are bioreactors”, says Gauci.
- The ISS Now Has an “Algae Bioreactor” Generating Oxygen and Foodon May 11, 2019 at 2:54 am
The bioreactor arrived at the ISS on Monday, and soon it will be used in concert with another closed loop life support system that converts carbon dioxide to useable methane and water. The leftover ...
- Algae 'Bioreactor' on Space Station Could Make Oxygen, Food for Astronautson May 8, 2019 at 3:59 am
The algae-powered bioreactor, called the Photobioreactor ... Closed-Loop System (ACLS), which was delivered to the space station in 2018. The ACLS extracts methane and water from the carbon dioxide in ...
- A methanotrophic archaeon couples anaerobic oxidation of methane to Fe(III) reductionon April 15, 2018 at 5:00 pm
Samples at different depths of the water column and sediment at the sampling location were filtered (0.22 µm filter) for dissolved methane and Fe(II) concentrations measurement (Supplementary Figure 1 ...
- Fort Riley-Kansas State University partnership leads to energy from bioreactoron January 15, 2018 at 4:00 pm
"Wastewater comes in and is treated through an anaerobic membrane bioreactor, which means it does the treatment process without any oxygen," Otto said. "When it does that, the bacteria that survives ...
- Methane to Its Madnesson October 27, 2017 at 2:29 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 ...
via Bing News