Enhancing Productivity of Biogas via Novel Catalyst

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Researchers from Chemical & Process Engineering Department, University of Surrey assessed the effect of varying compositions of model biogas on a potential multicomponent catalyst

Increasing greenhouse gas emissions is expected to lead to rise in global warming. According to International Energy Agency’s ‘CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion–Highlights’ report 2018: The energy sector alone accounts for two-thirds of total greenhouse gas emissions and around 80% of carbon dioxide emissions. Combustion of fossil fuels for the generation of energy and other industrial processes are some of the major sources of CO2 emissions. The demand for energy is also increasing rapidly worldwide, which has led to need for decarbonisation of the energy industry. CO2 has a major impact on global warming. However, According to a study published in the Environmental Research Letters ‘The indirect global warming potential and global temperature change potential due to methane oxidation’ 2009, the detrimental impact of releasing methane into the atmosphere should not be underestimated as the gas has a global warming potential (GWP) of 25.

Now, a team of researchers from Chemical & Process Engineering Department, University of Surrey developed an ultra-efficient Ni-Sn/CeO2-Al2O3 catalyst that can be used to convert biogas to syngas via the dry reforming of methane. The team tested the multicomponent catalyst over a range of temperatures and model biogas compositions. The team regulated the conversion of each reactant along with the Hydrogen to carbon monoxide ratio of the syngas produced and the yield of hydrogen molecules. Fresh, reduced, and spent samples of catalyst were used to perform multiple characterization techniques, which helped to demonstrate the crystal structure changes and the reversible reducibility for the support.

The team found that the new catalyst was able to efficiently convert both CO2 and methane ratios for all compositions of biogas. The stability of the catalyst against the biogas composition was also assessed and the team found no signs of deactivation. Moreover, the presence of excess methane increased the pace of deactivation of the catalyst. The team also compared the stability of the catalyst with the standard Ni/Al2O3 and found that both catalysts exhibited similar catalytic activity. However, the multicomponent catalyst demonstrated promotion effect of both tin and ceria as it benefited from greater coke resistance. The research was published in the journal MDPI Energy on March 15, 2019.

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About Author

Edwin Santos was born and raised in Puerto Rico. He has contributed to Discovery Magazine, Details and the Huffington Post. Edwin has also served as a commentator for NPR and MSNBC. As a journalist for Oak Tribune, Edwin mostly covers national news. Aside from earning a living as a freelance journalist, Edwin also works as photographer.