For an upcoming segment on Bloomberg, Planet Forward will be getting a bit gassy. FlexEnergy is a company that says it has found a new way to turn lots of new methane sources into renewable energy. Methane is one of the most destructive greenhouse gas, and according to the FlexEnergy video, it is more than 20 times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than CO2!
However we want to ask you, our community of experts, is generation of renewable energy from such low amounts of methane even possible? And if it is possible, will this technology turn methane into a primary source of clean energy in our future?
Methane can be produced in a variety of ways—the biggest contributor as well as the one that we’re all familiar with, is from cows. In addition to cows, methane is emitted from human-influenced sources such as landfills, agricultural activities, coal mining, wastewater treatment, etc… the list goes on and on. Flexenergy is focusing their business on the methane that is the primary constituent of natural gas. While using methane to make fuel is not new, the Flex Powerstation aims to produce electricity from low-grade sources, even as low as 5% methane.
This change -- the ability to use low-density methane -- means it can be used in any application that produces methane such as older landfills, wastewater treatment plants, oil fields, coalmines and dairy digesters. Flex says the technology produces Near Zero Emissions , operates on gases down to 50 Btu/scf (1700 kJ/m3), and has an internal cogeneration system available while also maintaining a small footprint. Such a system, if it can operate as Flex says it can, would offer a number of operations that produce or use methane with a clean and efficient way to turn it into continuous energy.
We at Planet Forward want to know what you have to say about turning methane into a valuable fuel. One of the main topics discussed during the Renewable Energy Panel at Planet Forward’s Innovation Summit was whether or not renewable energy sources will produce enough power to fuel our future. This discussion also lead to a heated debate on natural gas. Do you think methane will produce large enough quantities of power to become an effective solution to our energy problems? Will methane even be able to hold a flame to our other renewable energy sources that have already been proven effective? Tell us what you think!