The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced $35 million in funding for twelve projects focused on developing technologies to reduce methane emissions in the oil, gas, and coal industries. DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) Reducing Emissions of Methane Every Day of the Year (REMEDY) program (earlier post) was unveiled earlier this year for universities and private companies focused on significantly reducing US methane emissions.
The following teams selected for the REMEDY program will work to directly address the more than 50,000 engines, 300,000 flares, and 250 mine shafts that are producing methane emissions.
Natural Gas Engines
MAHLE Powertrain aims to develop a complete aftertreatment package system for existing lean- and ultra-lean burn natural gas (NG) engines used for power generation. The system will significantly increase methane conversion efficiency and comply with future stringent nitrous oxide regulations. The project team’s technology will consist of a novel methane oxidation catalyst (MOC) formulation capable of high conversion efficiencies at the lower exhaust temperatures in ultra-lean burn engines. Typical MOCs have diminished methane conversion efficiency at low temperatures, limiting their synergies with ultra-lean burn NG engines. The proposed MOC will use a hydrothermally stable formulation to promote high conversion efficiencies in low-temperature and high-water concentration environments.(Selection amount: $3,257,089)
Colorado State University will develop technology to reduce methane emissions from lean-burn natural gas engines by reducing methane ventilation through the crankcase. Methane that leaks past the ring and valve seals during compression and combustion enters the crankcase and is usually vented to the atmosphere. The team proposes a system that would capture the crankcase methane, filter it, and reroute it back to the engine intake where it would be re-ingested and combusted. This would simultaneously reduce methane emissions and improve engine efficiency. (Selection amount: $1,500,000)
Marquette University will enable an innovative combustion technology for lean-burn (high air-fuel ratio) natural gas engines to potentially reduce the amount of methane slip—or methane in the inlet fuel stream that escapes to the atmosphere—to 0.25% of the inlet fuel stream. The 0.25% target would represent a 90% reduction from current levels. The best way to reduce methane slip is to avoid premixing the fuel and intake air. The proposed system aims to achieve a non-premixed, mixing-controlled combustion process with natural gas in a lean-burn engine through an actively fueled prechamber. This system could be retrofitted to existing lean- burn engines or as a new engine technology. (Selection amount: $3,975,058)
INNIO’s Waukesha Gas Engines aims to develop new technology that will reduce methane slip by reducing the crevice volume in engine combustion chambers. This will broadly apply to all natural gas fueled lean burn engines, and can be retrofitted to a fleet of existing engines with little to no increase in budgeted costs. Emissions of regulated pollutants such as carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and formaldehyde will be reduced, while nitrogen oxides will stay the same. This means no emissions re-permitting will be necessary after installation. The new technology will reduce operating costs and is similar to existing components, meaning no retraining will be required for support technicians. (Selection amount: $2,230,693)
Texas A&M seeks to reduce methane emissions from compressor station natural gas (NG) engines by improving lean-burn operation, thereby reducing exhaust methane and CO2 emissions and maintaining low criteria pollutant emissions. The project team will develop a nanosecond non-thermal plasma-based ignition system capable of generating radicals, ions, and highly reactive intermediate species that result in rapid self-sustaining combustion, and a cyclic combustion control strategy that predicts and mitigates partial-fire and misfire cycles. The proposed work will demonstrate a working, field-tested, prototype plasma ignition system and model-based, feedforward combustion control system that would be transformative for large NG engines with potential for large-scale market adoption. (Selection amount: $2,824,814)
Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc. will adapt their combustor design to ensure 99.5% methane destruction efficiency for the highly variable gas sent to flares. The combustors will be made of silicon carbide, which can withstand more than 2500 degrees Fahrenheit, using a new 3D printing process. (Selection amount: $3,300,000)
Cimarron Energy, Inc. proposes a hybrid flare design coupled with advanced controls to ensure 99.5% destruction efficiency for flares that handle both high- and low-pressure gas streams. (Selection amount: $1,000,000)
University of Michigan will use additive manufacturing and machine learning to scale up their advanced burner. The burner will be incorporated into a new flare system design that is robust to cross winds and low load conditions which can lead to poor methane destruction efficiency. (Selection amount: $2,881,762)
University of Minnesota will use plasma-assisted combustion to enhance flare methane destruction efficiency. (Selection amount: $2,141,876)
Methane from Coal Mine Shafts
Johnson Matthey is developing new technology which uses a noble metal catalyst to combust the dilute methane in coal mine ventilation systems. (Selection amount: $4,346,015)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology is developing a low-cost copper-based catalyst for reducing methane emissions. (Selection amount: $2,020,903)
Precision Combustion proposes an innovative modular system that promotes methane reaction and manages thermal loads in a novel reactor design. (Selection amount: $3,720,317)
Funding for the REMEDY program, managed by ARPA-E, will be released in two stages spanning a total of three years. Stage 1 is planned to focus on lab-based tests confirming the operability of technical proposals, approaches, and system components. Stage 2 will expand the scale of testing and ideally include field tests.