Photo: Courtesy of MethQuest

MethanQuest: hydrogen, methane to play a key role in the energy transition

MethanQuest project, led by Rolls-Royce and DVG shows that hydrogen and methane manufactured using renewable energy resources will play a major role in the future.

MethanQuest: hydrogen, methane to play a key role in energy transition
Courtesy of MethQuest

The energy transition demands innovative solutions. Identifing future trends at an early stage and promoting their development is one of the goals of the MethanQuest project.

The project was launched in September 2018 with a total of 29 partners from research, industry and the energy sector with the goal of working together on processes for producing hydrogen and methane from renewables and for using them to achieve climate-neutral mobility and power generation.

The interim results of the project have been submitted. These relate to electrolysis systems for producing hydrogen, both on land and in offshore wind parks, equipment for producing methane, the use of gas engines in cars, ships and CHP plants, and concepts for energy systems that efficiently couple the transport, electrical power, gas and heating sectors. Common to all is the integration of renewable energies.

Project coordinator Frank Graf from DVGW Research Center reported: “Hydrogen and methane (e-methane) manufactured using renewable energy resources are set to play an important role in the future. The energy revolution will see power supply systems become increasingly dependent on flexible gas-fired power plants so that the fluctuations involved when using renewables can be compensated for. Furthermore, gas in LNG form is beginning to gain a foothold as a new marine fuel.”

MethanQuest’s six subprojects are working on the numerous research endavours.

The MethanFuel group is researching into new processes for manufacturing methane out of renewables.

AREVA H2Gen developed an innovative PEM electrolysis system, in which hydrogen is produced using electrical power generated from renewables. This is the first step in the power-to-gas process.

The process steps involved in turning hydrogen into e-methane were successfully demonstrated at DVGW and the Engler-Bunte-Institut. A long-term experiment in pulling CO2 from the air was conducted and a new plant has been put in place that is capable of producing ten cubic metres of pure methane per hour.

The MethanMare group wants to show how fuels made from renewables could support the energy revolution in the maritime sector. Research has found that with the use of catalyzers and a complex technique for high-pressure gas injection, emissions from a methane-powered ship engine can be lowered by up to 80 per cent compared with those of a conventional gas engine. It has also been shown that methanol combustion in large high-speed engines gives rise to low contaminant emissions and zero methane emissions.

The MethanGrid sub-project came up with an e-methane storage and distribution system for Karlsruhe’s Rhine port which can be used to provide ships and trucks with LNG, along with a complete locally coupled energy supply system to serve the port. This is a microgrid which couples all the current sectors, enabling all the available energy, including renewables, to be optimally exploited. They are also examining how e-methane could be integrated into the whole of Germany’s energy infrastructure.

E-methane is simple to store and use later, facilitating a CO2-neutral energy cycle.

Renewable energy sources such as wind or solar are used to generate electrical power. In the electrolysis process, this electrical power is used to break down water into its components (hydrogen and oxygen). Using the hydrogen, and CO2 from the air or from biomass, plus further energy input, other synthetic fuels such as e-methane, e-diesel and e-methanol can be manufactured.