Rolls-Royce to produce hydrogen and methane from renewables

Rolls-Royce to produce hydrogen and methane from renewables

Rolls-Royce Power Systems recently launched a flagship project, MethanQuest, that will produce hydrogen and methane from renewables.

The results include electrolysis systems for producing hydrogen, both on land and in offshore wind parks, equipment for producing methane, the use of gas engines in cars, ships and combined heat and power (CHP) plants, and concepts for energy systems that couple the transport, electrical power, gas and heating sectors. Common to all plants and processes is the integration of renewable energies. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) is providing some €19 million in funds to this project.

A total of six subprojects are working on the numerous research projects. The MethanFuel group is researching new processes for manufacturing methane out of renewables. All the technologies involved—from water electrolysis to CO2 extraction and methanation—have been examined and enhanced.

The process steps involved in turning hydrogen into e-methane were successfully demonstrated at DVGW and the Engler-Bunte-Institut, Teilinstitut Chemische Energieträger - Brennstofftechnologie (EBI ceb) of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, also first to conduct a long-term experiment in pulling CO2 from the air was conducted. A new plant has been put in place that is capable of producing 10 cu m of pure methane per hour.

In various sub-projects, the partners are working on engines capable of combusting gas made from renewables without producing harmful by-products. A car engine powered by e-methane which was built under the leadership of Ford is currently being put through its paces. Coordinated by Rolls-Royce Power Systems, an Otto gas engine fuelled by hydrogen is also being tested. The researchers found the positive result—hydrogen combustion produces low levels of noxious emissions.

The MethanMare group aims to demonstrate how fuels made from renewables could support the energy revolution in the maritime sector. It has also been shown that methanol combustion in large high speed engines gives rise to low contaminant emissions and zero methane emissions.

Another sub-project is on the MethanGrid, devised an e-methane storage and distribution system for Karlsruhe's Rhine port, and can be used to provide ships and trucks with liquefied natural gas (LNG). The system is also said to support the high-pressure gas network in Baden Württemberg for peak load coverage. The researchers have also developed a complete locally coupled energy supply system to serve the port.

E-methane can be produced using electricity made from renewable sources—otherwise known as the power-to-gas process. E-methane is said to be simple to store and use at a later date, thereby facilitating a CO2-neutral energy cycle. The MethanMare group aims to demonstrate how fuels made from renewables could support the energy revolution in the maritime sector.

Written from a company news release.

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