Japanese project aims to turn CO2 into natural gas

Jan 06, 2010
An enormous iceberg breaks off the Knox Coast in the Australian Antarctic Territory, 2008. Japanese researchers said Wednesday they hoped to enlist bacteria in the fight against global warming to transform carbon dioxide buried under the seabed into natural gas.

Japanese researchers said Wednesday they hoped to enlist bacteria in the fight against global warming to transform carbon dioxide buried under the seabed into natural gas.

The researchers at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology aim to activate found naturally in earth to turn CO2 into methane, a major component of natural gas.

A team led by chief researcher Fumio Inagaki have already confirmed that the bacteria exists in the crust deep under the off the northern tip of Japan's main island, a spokesman for the institute told AFP.

But the project faces a big challenge to develop a method of activating the bacteria and accelerating the speed of methane gas generation, a spokesman for the agency acknowledged.

In the natural environment, the bacteria turn CO2 into methane gas very slowly, over billions of years, he said.

The researchers hope to develop technology within about five years to activate the bacteria and shorten the transformation time to about 100 years, he said.

"The institute still has many hurdles, including the need to secure a budget, before officially kicking off the project," the spokesman said. "But if launched, it would be the first such project as far as we know."

The aim is for the bacteria to produce from CO2 buried in a layer about 2,000 metres (6,600 feet) under the sea bed, the agency said.

Researchers in Japan and elsewhere are seeking to capture and store carbon dioxide underground in an effort to curb . Such projects are controversial as environmentalists warn that CO2 could seep out.

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Sancho
2.4 / 5 (9) Jan 06, 2010
This appears to be another of those wanky little stories cranked out by the Mighty Wirlitzer of the IPCC to create the illusion of a consensus on AGW. The assumption here is that global warming is real (only Punxsutawney Phil knows for sure!), that it is amenable to human tampering (probably not), and that hare-brained schemes such as reconstituting methane from CO2 offer "hope" for a cure.

This particular "cure" is absurd, however, because the CO2 is already sequestered in rock. It can't affect climate until it's converted to methane and burned. LOL.
awokologaede
3.6 / 5 (7) Jan 06, 2010
EVERY LEAD TO MAKE THE EARTH LIVABLE SHOULD BE PURSUED WITH VIGOR.
stephenj
4.6 / 5 (9) Jan 06, 2010
Well Sancho, there is an awful lot of data to support the claims of global warming, and that our species is to blame; but that is not the issue that I have with this. The problem I have is that methane is a better greenhouse gas than CO2 (better meaning that it is a stronger causitive agent). What happens if there is a 'burp' of methane from these areas of sequestered CO2? In terms of using this as a band aid for climate change...well, I dont think that they are suggesting that; just a way to be carbon neutral (by injecting CO2 from power plants into the ground with these bugs to make methane). If they are suggesting that this is a way to reverse the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere; I would have to agree with you...it is a poor scheme.
LKD
5 / 5 (4) Jan 06, 2010
I wish the headline writers were fired. This article has nothing to do with global warming. And there is nothing in this article about ice to justify the picture.

I think this is a phenominal means of research to learn terraforming for future prospects on other worlds. Say Mars or such.

I question where the hydrogen comes from and what the byproducts of this bacteria's process involve. But more importantly, I wish there was more detail. They don't even name the bacteria.
Mr_Frontier
4 / 5 (5) Jan 06, 2010
You don't need the fear of global warming to pursue a shorter reformulation cycle for fuels.
Sancho
2.1 / 5 (7) Jan 06, 2010
Well, Stepheni, the "awful lot of data to support the claims of global warming" is now suspect. The alternate view is equally supported by the data: climate change, as opposed to "global warming," is driven chiefly by solar activity. (See Plimer's "Heaven and Earth" for a scientifically based explication of this.) The Sun outpaces even Al Gore in production of hot air (by several orders of magnitude!). It's the driver, not us wee humans. We're not "to blame."

But, hey, warm sure beats cold. If this is an interglacial period that is about to end (perhaps rather suddenly) --- which is suggested by the data --- people in future will remember our climate fears as just another manifestation of hubris.

Here is a quiz: can you name the preponderant greenhouse gas (hint: it's not the trace gas CO2, by a long shot) and how climate change affects production of this gas?

douglas2
3.8 / 5 (4) Jan 06, 2010
What is the source of energy for the bacteria? Maybe we can access this source directly, and not produce methane to be burned, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
croghan26
2 / 5 (2) Jan 06, 2010
Stepheni - that is my question too: "The problem I have is that methane is a better greenhouse gas than CO2 (better meaning that it is a stronger causitive agent)."

As I understand it there are natural mechanisms to cope with CO2 in the atmosphere - but we are producing it too fast for these to handle the amount.

Would not a quick conversion to the hydrocarbon, CH4, just add to and worsen the deliterious effects of GHGs ?

(I also agree with your comment to Sancho.)
Sancho
3.3 / 5 (3) Jan 06, 2010
At one point in relatively recent Earth history, atmospheric CO2 was 4000 ppmv, vs about 380 ppmv today. At that time, there was ice at the equator at sea level (i.e., the planet was very cold). Correlation?

Answer to my quiz above: water vapor is the main greenhouse gas, comprising 95% of such gases. Why isn't there an initiative to control water vapor?

BTW, has anyone quantified how much methane (which degrades to CO2) is released into the atmosphere by the inefficient combustive practice of "flaring off" oil wells? Bet not.


curator_ami2
2.5 / 5 (6) Jan 06, 2010
http://www.rense....ming.htm
One page of thousands pointing out that man made global warming is a total lie. Ice core records show that we are presently at peak temperature, and are due for a decline. And as observed by several other commenters, methane is a significantly more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2. However, the most powerful GHG is water vapour, which is also a product of CH4 combustion.
The true cause of climate change cannot be fully understood until the present, and also utterly false, isolated gravity powered fusion model of cosmology is finally put to rest and replaced by the z-pinch plasma arc model (electric universe) supported by both the IEEE and the actual observed facts of cosmological behaviour.
On top of that, the Sol system is not native to the milkyway, and has not yet fully adjusted to its new course (due to occur at the end of 2012, hence the end of the mayan calander). Or something like that. Don't take my word for it, though. =P
croghan26
5 / 5 (5) Jan 06, 2010

BTW, has anyone quantified how much methane (which degrades to CO2) is released into the atmosphere by the inefficient combustive practice of "flaring off" oil wells? Bet not.


Actually, Sancho that is monitored fairly closely .... flares are intended as safety devices for large gas releases - the constant flame is there as an ignition source.

The fame is usually re-routed fuel gas that is intended for use in boilers and heaters. Fuel gas is either self-generated or bought on the market. So, wasted methane/ethane means big $$$ to refinery operators and they keep pretty close tabs on what is burning in their flare stacks.

The refineries I have worked in most certainly do have monthly reports on how much is burnt and more important to them, how much it costs.
Sancho
2.8 / 5 (4) Jan 06, 2010
Thanks for the comeback, croghan26, but I was referring to oil-field flaring. At remote fields where there is no infrastructure for gas transport, the nat gas brought up as a part of oil production is simply burned at the wellhead. I expect there is a great deal of that going on in Central Asia and Russia.
croghan26
5 / 5 (3) Jan 06, 2010
Thanks for the comeback, croghan26, but I was referring to oil-field flaring. At remote fields where there is no infrastructure for gas transport, the nat gas brought up as a part of oil production is simply burned at the wellhead. I expect there is a great deal of that going on in Central Asia and Russia.


I have know people working in the middle east, primarily Saudi, who related that there are huge plumes of smoke over some oil fields, quite like the Kuwaiti fields after saddam left - now the nat gas is pressurized and shipped off - but it was just (as you say) flared off for years.

Many of the refineries in the middle east are known as 'crude reduction units' - they only remove the lighter ends from the heavy crude that is shipped off. You can imagine the waste of BTUs and the polution that was generated.
Nartoon
1 / 5 (2) Jan 07, 2010
Researchers in Japan and elsewhere are seeking to capture and store carbon dioxide underground in an effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Such projects are controversial as environmentalists warn that CO2 could seep out.

The CO2 could seep out eh, well maybe they could try a few test pilots first. I'm telling you the ecoterrorists won't be happy until every last source of CO2 is wiped out; and that includes us.
croghan26
5 / 5 (1) Jan 07, 2010
Researchers in Japan and elsewhere are seeking to capture and store carbon dioxide underground in an effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Such projects are controversial as environmentalists warn that CO2 could seep out.

The CO2 could seep out eh, well maybe they could try a few test pilots first. I'm telling you the ecoterrorists won't be happy until every last source of CO2 is wiped out; and that includes us.


I believe the Canadian Province of Alberta has ear marked about $3 billion for research into a similar project, primarily from the oil sands, but useful elsewhere. (If it has not been cancelled with the drop in oil prices).
GrayMouser
1 / 5 (1) Jan 07, 2010
One question. Where does the energy come for this conversion. Oxygen + Carbon -> CO2 + energy. Changing CO2 to Methane must require an input of energy to drive it.
Where does it come from and how much is required?