Figuring out methane's role in the climate puzzle

Jul 09, 2014

The U.S. may be on the verge of an economy driven by methane, the primary component of natural gas, which burns cleaner than coal and is undergoing a production boom. It has poised the country as a top fuel producer globally, but recent research is casting serious doubts over just how climate-friendly it is, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly news magazine of the American Chemical Society.

In the article, Jeff Johnson, a senior correspondent at C&EN, explains that when burned as a fuel to produce electricity, emits about half as much carbon dioxide (CO2), a major greenhouse gas, as . But not all methane gets burned as fuel. Some of the gas is released, either through leaks or intentional venting from oil and gas wells, into the atmosphere. Although it is present in much smaller amounts in the atmosphere compared to CO2—the primary target for climate change regulations—methane has 86 times more global warming potential. And estimates vary significantly over just how much is escaping into the air.

To get a better handle on the methane picture, researchers are planning more detailed studies to estimate the gas's emissions from oil and gas operations. In parallel, the Environmental Protection Agency, which has so far been reluctant to directly regulate methane emissions, plans to review the situation. If deemed necessary, the agency would propose new regulations by 2016.

Explore further: Control methane now, greenhouse gas expert warns

More information: "Methane's Role in Climate Change" - cen.acs.org/articles/92/i27/Me… -Climate-Change.html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Control methane now, greenhouse gas expert warns

May 14, 2014

(Phys.org) —As the shale gas boom continues, the atmosphere receives more methane, adding to Earth's greenhouse gas problem. A Cornell ecology professor fears that we may not be many years away from an ...

Study shows bacteria combat dangerous gas leaks

Apr 28, 2014

Bacteria could mop up naturally-occurring and man-made leaks of natural gases before they are released into the atmosphere and cause global warming - according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

Recommended for you

Base-pairing protects DNA from UV damage

8 minutes ago

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich researchers have discovered a further function of the base-pairing that holds the two strands of the DNA double helix together: it plays a crucial role in protecting ...

Smartgels are thicker than water

28 minutes ago

Transforming substances from liquids into gels plays an important role across many industries, including cosmetics, medicine, and energy. But the transformation process, called gelation, where manufacturers ...

Separation of para and ortho water

Sep 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Not all water is equal—at least not at the molecular level. There are two versions of the water molecule, para and ortho water, in which the spin states of the hydrogen nuclei are different. ...

User comments : 0