Audi is Using Renewable Energy to Convert CO2 into Methane …

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Audi e-gas

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Audi is Using Renewable Energy to Convert CO2 into Methane

As of June 25, 2013, the well-known German automaker, Audi, at a brand-new factory, is using renewable, environmental energy to convert Carbon Dioxide into substitute natural gas Methane.

As heralded in excerpts from the above link to the brief news release:

June 25, 2013: Audi’s revolutionary e-gas plant, first announced in May, 2011, has finally come online. The plant can create a variety of energy sources including pure electricity, hydrogen or a synthetic gas similar to natural gas which Audi calls e-gas. The plant, located in Werlte, Germany, will produce about 1,000 metric tons of e-gas per year, chemically binding some 2,800 metric tons of CO2.

That’s roughly as much a forest of over 220,000 beech trees absorbs in a year. Water and oxygen are the only by-products.

In passing, we’ll note that Audi is a component of the Volkswagen Group, the second, behind General Motors, largest automaker in the world. And, this is only a pilot plant facility; photos accessible via links enclosed further on in this dispatch show how small in size it is. Accompanying articles relate how the major components of the factory were fabricated elsewhere and hauled to the site by truck.

More can be learned from an earlier news story:

Audi E-Gas Plant Uses CO2, Renewables to Make Fuel · Environmental Management Energy News · Environmental Leader ; ‘Audi E-Gas Plant Uses CO2, Renewables to Make Fuel'; Audi is building an industrial plant in Werlte, Germany, which will use renewable energy and carbon dioxide to make synthetic methane fuel. The plant will use power-to-gas technology to make so-called e-gas for vehicles, such as the new Audi A3 Sportback TCNG. E-gas made at the plant can be distributed to compressed natural gas stations via Germany’s natural gas network and will power vehicles starting next year, Audi said.

The e-gas plant, which has the capacity to convert six MW of power, will use renewable electricity for electrolysis. The process splits water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen. (The) plant takes the hydrogen and reacts it with CO2 in a methanation unit to generate renewable synthetic methane, or e-gas, Audi said. The CO2 used in the plant is a waste byproduct from a nearby biogas plant operated by utility EWE. The CO2 is chemically bonded into the fuel at the plant, making e-gas climate neutral, Audi said. Waste heat generated during the electrolysis and methanation is used in an adjacent facility, which improves the facility’s efficiency, the automaker said.

The plant will produce about 1,000 metric tons of e-gas each year and will chemically bind some 2,800 mt of CO2, the equivalent amount of CO2 that 224,000 beech trees absorb annually. The facility will generate enough e-gas to power 1,500 new Audi A3 Sportback TCNG vehicles for 9,320 miles every year, the automaker said. A special certification procedure will verify that the same amount of e-gas purchased by owners of the Audi TCNG is fed back into the network by the e-gas plant.

And, ironically and interestingly, so interestingly we tried to figure out a way to work it into our headline, the industrial exhaust gas Carbon Dioxide Audi is converting into Methane isn’t coming from a Coal-fired power plant, but, from a clean, green facility that is converting biological wastes into Methane via anaerobic bacterial digestion. We won’t get into it here, but we long ago documented for you that such bacterial production of Methane from organic wastes, just like the biological fermentation of carbohydrates and sugars, the fermentation of Corn for example, into clean, green Ethanol, entails the co-production of a nearly equivalent amount of Carbon Dioxide.

We start to learn a little more about that via:

World premiere: Audi opens power-to-gas facility ; Audi opens the e-gas plant in Werlte today making it the first automobile manufacturer to develop a chain of sustainable energy carriers. It begins with green electricity, water and carbon dioxide. The end products are hydrogen and the synthetic methane: Audi e-gas.

‘Audi is taking a giant step toward the mobility of the future today,’ said Heinz Hollerweger, Head of Total Vehicle Development, in his speech at the inauguration. ‘Audi is the only manufacturer worldwide with such innovative technology. Research into synthetic, environment-friendly fuels is the core of our vigorous e-fuels strategy.’ Reiner Mangold, Head of Sustainable Product Development, added, ‘The power-to-gas facility we built in Werlte can become a beacon project for the entire energy revolution, far beyond the boundaries of our company.’ Peter Altmaier, German Federal Minister of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, also commended Audi’s commitment in his welcoming address.The e-gas plant works in two process steps: electrolysis and methanation. In the first step, the plant uses surplus green electricity to break water down into oxygen and hydrogen in three electrolyzers. The hydrogen could one day power fuel-cell vehicles. For the time being, however, in the absence of an area-wide infrastructure, a second process step is carried out directly: methanation.

The hydrogen is reacted with CO2 to produce synthetic methane, or Audi e-gas. It is virtually identical to fossil natural gas and will be distributed via an existing infrastructure, the German natural gas network, to the CNG filling stations. The plant is scheduled to begin feeding Audi e-gas to the grid in fall 2013.

The Audi e-gas plant will produce about 1,000 metric tons of e-gas per year, chemically binding some 2,800 metric tons of CO2. This roughly corresponds to the amount that a forest of over 220,000 beech trees absorbs in one year. Water and oxygen are the only by-products. Audi built the e-gas plant in collaboration with the plant construction specialist ETOGAS GmbH (formerly SolarFuel) and its project partner MT-BioMethan GmbH . The whole process starts with electrically generated from wind farms located in the North Sea, just off the coast of Germany.

This clean energy (is) used to create hydrogen at the plant via the electrolysis of water (and) the plant can be used to convert the hydrogen into e-gas in a CO2-consuming process called methanation. The plant is scheduled to begin feeding e-gas to the natural gas network in the fall of 2013.

More about the above MT-BioMethan GmbH can be learned, keeping in mind to click on their English translation utility, via:

MT Biomethan gas conditioning: Corporate Profile and MT Biomethan gas conditioning: MT-BioMethan ; At the end of December 2012 the topping out ceremony took place for the world’s first industrial power-to-gas plant. MT-BioMethan is building the gas upgrading which separates the carbon dioxide necessary for the methanation out of the raw biogas.

More about the plant construction specialist ETOGAS GmbH (formerly SolarFuel), can be learned via:

http://www.etogas.com/fileadmin/user_upload/pi-2013-ETOGAS-NewNameSolarFuel.pdf ; Press release: Stuttgart, 29 April 2013: ‘SolarFuel Becomes ETOGAS'; New corporate name for the Power-to-Gas plant manufacturer; Stuttgart company changes its name. SolarFuel GmbH has changed its name. From now on, the Stuttgart-based plant manufacturer acts as ETOGAS GmbH. The new company name is designed to provide a better reflection of the company’s activities.

The change in name is part of the way to a … company, which in recent months has seen a dynamic growth in headcount. The structure of the company will remain the same, and the change in name will also have no effect on existing contracts. ETOGAS develops, builds and sells Power-to-Gas systems for converting excess green electricity into hydrogen and methane.

If SolarFuel GmbH, now ETOGAS GmbH, sounds very vaguely familiar, we remind you of our report:

‘Cutting-Edge Technology for the Long-Term Storage of Electricity from Renewable Sources'; Solar Fuel Technology GmbH Co KG was founded in Salzburg, Austria in 2007.An extensive study and evaluation of potential photon to fuel technologies has been carried out at the Joannes Kepler University Linz/Austria. The combination of renewable production of electricity with subsequent electrolytic production of Hydrogen and methanation of CO2 + Hydrogen was identified as the solution of choice. We are represented in Germany by SolarFuel GmbH with its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. SolarFuel uses electric power to directly convert the energy-free raw materials CO2 and water into synthetic natural gas: In the first stage of electrolysis, water is separated into hydrogen and oxygen. In the second stage, hydrogen is directly converted into methane (CH4) with CO2.

Here, the energy density increases by factor 3, and a marketable and manageable energy source is created which is of standard quality and which can be fed directly into the natural gas grid. The attainable level of efficiency is over 60 percent (and, the)product is natural gas which conforms to DVGW and DIN standards, and is used for the direct fueling of serially produced cars ; and:

Audi e-gas

United States Patent Application 030041051 — Method for Producing a Methane-rich Product Gas and Reactor System Usable for that Purpose; 2013; Assignee: Solar Fuel, Gmbh, Stuttgart; Abstract: The invention relates t o a method for producing a methane-rich product gas, in which a starting gas containing hydrogen and carbon dioxide is catalytically methanated . Reactor system for producing a methane-rich product gas from a starting gas containing hydrogen and carbon dioxide. Reactor system. which can be coupled. to a device for generating hydrogen by means of electrical energy (and) which can be coupled and in particular is coupled to a device for producing carbon dioxide, particularly via a gas scrubber ;

which should give you some idea of how Audi, and Solar Fuel/Etogas, using for the most part excess electricity generated from wind farms, plan on converting MT-BioMethan’s waste gas Carbon Dioxide, which is co-produced during the bio-digestion of organic wastes to produce Methane, into Methane.

Audi recently made public presentation of the project, at Europe’s Gas Infrastructure Europe, GIE, Annual Conference, held in Venice, Italy, in May of this year:

The above takes you to the graphics, but not the text; and that, unfortunately results in some uncertainties.

But, it is clear: Audi is using environmentally-derived electricity to produce substitute natural gas Methane, which they emphasize can be put directly into the existing natural gas transmission and delivery infrastructure, out of water and Carbon Dioxide. Slide 5 might be of interest; it is a photo of their Methane synthesis factory. And, slide 21 seems to show that enough Methane to power the world’s automotive fleet, if the fleet were converted to run on Compressed Natural Gas, could be synthesized, from Carbon Dioxide, in a total CO2-to-Methane factory space of 110,000 square kilometers. By way of comparison, that would, according to Audi, be only five percent of the land area needed to do the same thing with traditional biofuels.

By way of further comparison, according to the Wikipedia, West Virginia has a land area of about half of that; but, Saudi Arabia is twenty times that size.

And, speaking of Saudi Arabia, with all of that land and all of that desert sun potential for generating solar electricity to operate the process of United States Patent Application 030041051 — Method for Producing a Methane-rich Product Gas and Reactor System Usable for that Purpose, just as Audi, as herein, is doing, and, thus, to make Methane from Carbon Dioxide, we remind you, that, as seen in:

West Virginia Coal Association | Saudia Arabia CO2 + Methane = Hydrocarbons + Syngas | Research Development ; concerning: United States Patent 7,355,088 — Process for Producing Benzene, Ethylene and Synthesis Gas; 2008; Inventors: Agaddin Mamedov, et. al. Saudi Arabia; Assignee: Saudi Basic Industries Corporation, Riyadh; Abstract: Process for producing benzene, ethylene and synthesis gas, comprising the steps of: introducing a starting gas flow comprising methane and carbon dioxide into a reactor (and) removing a product gas flow comprising benzene, ethylene and synthesis gas from the reactor;

Saudi Arabia knows, just as, as seen in:

West Virginia Coal Association | Pittsburgh 1941 CO2 + Methane = Hydrocarbon Syngas | Research Development ; concerning: United States Patent 2,266,989 — Manufacture of a Gas from CO2 and Methane; December, 1941 ; Assignee: Koppers Company, Pittsburgh, PA ; Abstract: The present invention relates to the manufacture of gases suitable for the synthesis of higher hydrocarbons. by reacting on methane. with carbon dioxide or a mixture of carbon dioxide and steam, so that the methane. is decomposed into hydrogen and carbon monoxide. The process according to the invention consists in. heating up the methane. in the presence of carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide and steam (and) for adding an adjustable quantity of the carbon dioxide to the gas heater while introducing the methane. (The product gas mixture) is especially suitable for the synthesis of hydrocarbons;

we’ve supposedly known in United States Coal Country since WWII, that: once we have Methane, as Audi is now, as herein, synthesizing from Carbon Dioxide, water and renewable energy, we can react, or reform, that CO2-based Methane with even more Carbon Dioxide, and thereby generate some more desirable hydrocarbons directly and/or a gas mixture of Carbon Monoxide and Hydrogen suitable, as via the long-known Fischer-Tropsch process, for the synthesis of any and all sort of other gaseous and liquid hydrocarbons.

Right now, in Europe, a factory is up and running that, using wind-generated electricity, is converting industrial off-gas Carbon Dioxide into substitute natural gas Methane.

And, it’s far past time all of us in US Coal Country pulled our heads out from under the covers, dragged our … cans out of bed, and put the coffee on to brew.

We all need to wake up to what’s going on in the rest of the world.

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