Methane is a blessing as well as a curse. It is one of the main reasons for global warming and at the same time, it promises plentiful alternative energy. The gas could be found all around the planet in atmosphere as well as deep below the ocean floor. Methane plays a significant role in the fitness of the environment. The mysterious gas is an important fuel and a hazardous digestive waste product. Chemically known as CH4, methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas. Its main source of generation is digestive fermentation in cattle. Besides this, we will be discussing many other sources and ways to use this gas in a productive manner. Given below are seven ways methane can be used to reduce global warming.
1. Using kangaroo bacteria to cure cow’s methane problem
Methane is 20 times stronger as a greenhouse gas as compared to carbon dioxide. It is the most powerful heat-trapping product of human beings. About 18 percent of the methane is produced by farm animals. However, kangaroos do not produce this gas and researchers in Australia are trying hard to make livestock act in the same manner. They are trying to reduce methane release in cattle and sheep by introducing digestive bacteria from kangaroo’s guts into these farm animals. Another simple way to reduce methane release is by introducing garlic supplements in animal’s feed that improves digestion. The garlic supplements can reduce this type of methane production by almost 50 percent and this happens because the organisms that produce methane in the digestive system are attracted by the garlic. Among the livestock, cow is considered as the greatest producer of methane gas and adding garlic in cow’s feed could help in reducing greenhouse gas impact.
2. Making methane energy
Almost a trillion tons of methane is trapped in frozen state under Arctic lakes. With gradual melting of this massive ice source, methane gas is bubbling out. The U.S Geological Survey has predicted that this methane under ice might contain organic carbon contents more than that of world’s coal, oil, and natural gas reserves. This methane release in Arctic has accelerated due to global warming and if it continues to release at this pace, it will definitely cross the levels found 10,000 years back. Many companies like BMW have shown their interest in methane-to-energy projects for massive operations. Such projects will not only generate energy and reduce the demand for other fossil fuels, but will also transform a strong greenhouse gas into a weak one.
3. The global greenhouse impact by plants
German researchers have found out that the ordinary plants also emit methane into atmosphere. This was proved when scientists noticed huge clouds of methane above forest areas. To prove this, scientists placed various plants in the test chambers in methane free rooms. The results were shocking. Scientists were amazed to see that soon after pacing plants in the room, the room began detecting methane. However, the findings do not prove that we should stop planting trees but instead foresee the projection and use this methane to produce energy as is being used in the Arctic regions in some way or the other.
4. The cow train
One company of Sweden has built a locomotive that runs on cow dung. This train is one of the most environmentally friendly locomotives of the world. The methane fuel for the train is produced in the same way as swamps produce gas through fermentation. Workers make slurry mixing organic wastes and cow dung and steam it to kill unwanted bacteria. Sludge is digested by introducing specific bacteria, which releases methane as a by-product of digestion. This methane is purified and is used to power eco friendly train. Now the same process is being used to run taxis, trucks, and personal cars in Linkoping.
5. Deep ocean methane reserves
Substantial amount of oil and methane are believed to be stored on the ocean floor thousands of feet below water surface. This is one of the unexplored forms of energy reserves and ice free trade routes are attracting the exploration of these hidden reserves. The clear routes have been formed by ice melting in Arctic regions at accelerated pace. The Northwest Passage is luring Russia to be the first one to explore this untapped wealth. Russia, United States, and other such countries have started thorough mapping and spotting of the Arctic Floor to tap this excellent opportunity in the Arctic base.
6. Methane for electricity generation
Methane can be used as a fuel in gas turbines or boilers. Burning methane produces less carbon footprints as compared to other hydrocarbons. In various cities, methane is supplied directly to homes and is used for domestic heating and cooking purposes.
7. Methane as rocket fuel
Researchers are working on using methane as a rocket fuel. The best suitability factor is that methane could be found in abundance in various parts of the solar system. The present methane engines can produces thrust of only 7,500 pounds, which is quite less, and researches are being carried out to make it appropriate for space shuttle.