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, coal mines 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. 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!