Renewable synthetic methane in gas pipes

Australian project to inject synthetic methane.

Australian project to inject synthetic methane.

The Australian Government supports a project to produce renewable synthetic methane hydrogen and inject it into existing gas pipelines. It is a renewable methane production plant. And, in addition, a way to make gas, which has a lot of weight in the country’s transition, be more neutral.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has said it will contribute $ 1.1 million to create the renewable methane plant.

The project is also part of the commitment to hydrogen that has been spreading lately. In fact, Australia has a National Hydrogen Strategy to support decarbonisation goals, developing industrial competitiveness and growing the economy.

The natural gas and energy infrastructure operator, APA Group, is behind the construction of the plant, which is located in Australia Queensland.

The project will use photovoltaic solar energy generation to extract water from the atmosphere and produce hydrogen through electrolysis. It will then convert it to methane, through reaction with carbon dioxide from the air.

The methane can then be injected directly into the existing natural gas pipeline.

In the AEM (Anion Exchange Membrane) technology, the start-up Enapter works together with Souther Green Gas. They are the ones who develop the so-called modular “virtual gas well” for the project.

Enapter chief operating officer Jan-Justus Schmidt explained that this project could validate other solutions for more gas power projects. And added:

“This confirmation [from the Australian government] points out that gas power projects do not need to be large centralized systems, but can comprise stackable units that are easy to lift around existing infrastructure.”

Synthetic methane, renewable gas
Enapter believes in the feasibility of low cost hydrogen production through its electrolyzers and using AEM technology. While other manufacturers pursue hydrogen manufacturing with increasingly larger systems, Enapter opts for the modular approach.

In this regard, Schmidt has explained:

“Enapter’s compact AEM electrolyzers will help to form a decentralized system. They can also help pave the way for renewable methane production along Australia’s pipeline system.

The plan is to build small virtual gas wells consisting of solar panels to produce electricity, an electrolyzer to produce hydrogen gas from water, and then capture – actually extract water and also CO2 from the atmosphere – and then bring the Hydrogen with CO2 through a methanator, creating synthetic methane gas CH4 – natural gas – that can be put directly into the pipeline. ”

Schmidt even believes that the gas could be exported abroad.

At least it would be a way to make the energy transition more sustainable using gas. The Australian Agency explains that the electricity sector is in transition towards renewable energy. However, he adds, natural gas still accounts for a larger part of Australia’s energy use.

Meanwhile, the CEO and general manager of the APA Group, Rob Wheals, has stated:

“The project will help determine the costs and benefits of generating renewable methane for use in the East Coast gas network.

With this project, our goal is to determine if this carbon neutral process could be part of the green energy solution of the future. Also, if our pipes can be used to transport renewable energy for national use or to be exported. “

According to ARENA, instead of using directly electrolyzed hydrogen, synthetic methane can be mixed in the gas network at higher concentrations. Some pipes may also not be compatible with hydrogen, but will be compatible with methane.

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