It is already known that natural gas burning to provide heat or electrical energy is far kinder to the environment than any other hydrocarbon source. But a team of scientist from the VCU Department of Chemistry, Virginia, USA, led by Hani M. El-Kaderi Ph.D, assistant professor, may greatly improve that after they presented new organic polymer technology to the American Chemical Society (ACS) at their annual conference last March.
“Natural gas has a reputation among the public as a clean-burning fuel, and that is true,” said El-Kaderi. “Compared to coal and oil, burning natural gas releases small amounts of pollutants and less carbon dioxide…”. (see note)
However, even the cleanest source of raw natural gas has impurities including sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. It also contains carbon dioxide. Currently CO2 scrubbing is done using liquid scrubbers, but Dr El-Kaderi was seeking a solid polymer to do the same job. His group developed purely organic polymers termed benzimidazole-linked polymers (BILPs). These are saturated with nano-engineered pores with empty chambers, so small that thousands would fit on a full stop.
When streams of natural gas are passed through this solid the pores absorb and trap its carbon dioxide. When CO2 has filled all of the pores the BILPs are recycled through a low-pressure processing unit to remove the carbon dioxide. That CO2 can then be pressurised and used in other applications, such as greenhouse horticulture which uses CO2 to boost the growth of plants and vegetables.
The resultant natural gas product was described as “super natural gas” and they said it “would burn hotter than the familiar workhorse fuel and occupy about 40 percent less space in pipelines, railroad tank cars and storage chambers”. The space saving alone would make this economically a very desirable product indeed. Also, the hotter, cleaner burning fuel would most likely shift natural gas into the cleanest energy we can produce, in commercially usable quantities, from any source including all of the renewables such as wind and solar.
This technology and others like it will shift the perception of oil and gas from the false narrative of dirty energy into the clean green fuel it actually is.
Note: The press
release about this organic polymer called CO2 a greenhouse gas and specified
CO2 as a global warming contributor. It is the Editors position that other
factors such as the upper atmospheric ozone levels have a much greater
influence on atmospheric temperatures than any man made CO2 levels. CO2 does
not contribute to global warming and the term global warming itself is a
debunked hypothesis. The terms ‘greenhouse gas’ and ‘global warming’, referring
to CO2 should not appear in any scientifically sound papers. CO2 is plant food,
plain and simple.
The oil and gas industry should, as good stewards of the environment, take care that its products are the best they can provide from an environmental perspective. That’s just common sense.