Announcement from 25/03/2021

MethQuest—promising interim results

Green methane for transport and energy supply—research and industry present interim results in the MethQuest project
•    New technologies for producing gas from renewable sources
•    Hydrogen, methanol and methane undergo testing for ships, cars and for electricity generation
•    LNG supply and microgrid concept for the Karlsruhe Rhine harbour

In the MethQuest lead project, a total of 29 partners from research, industry and the energy industry have been working since 2018 to develop methods for producing hydrogen and methane from renewable sources and their climate-neutral use in transport and energy supply. The project participants have now presented their interim results. These include electrolysis systems that produce hydrogen onshore or in offshore wind farms, plants for methane production, gas engines for cars, ships and combined heat and power stations as well as concepts for energy systems that efficiently combine all sectors, such as transport, electricity, gas and heat. What is common to all methods and systems is the integration of renewable energies.
“The energy transition requires innovative solutions for the use of renewable energies to produce fuels and their use in transport and energy supply. It is therefore very important to identify and support future trends early on. For instance, we have been supporting the MethQuest research project since 2018 and it is already showing extremely valuable interim results”, explains Norbert Brackmann, MdB, federal government coordinator for the maritime economy. The MethQuest project is supported by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) with funding of 19 million euros.
“Hydrogen and methane from renewable sources (e-methane) will play an important role in the future: looking forward, the electricity supply will become increasingly reliant on flexible gas-fired plants to manage the volatility of renewable energies. Moreover, gas in the form of LNG is establishing itself as a new marine fuel”, reports project coordinator Dr Frank Graf from the DVGW Research Centre at the Engler-Bunte-Institut of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).
New technologies for generating gas from renewable sources
The numerous MethQuest research activities, headed by the DVGW and the Rolls Royce Power Systems division, are being tackled in six sub-projects. In the MethFuel cluster, participants are researching new methods for producing methane from renewable sources. All the necessary technologies, from water electrolysis through to CO2 separation procedures and methanation processes, have already been looked at and advanced.
AREVA H2Gen developed a new PEM electrolysis system in collaboration with the partners Fraunhofer ISE and iGas. This is targeting the first step in the Power-to-Gas process, the production of hydrogen using electricity from renewable energies. To enable the large-scale production of hydrogen in offshore wind farms in future, the Berlin Institute of Technology is investigating how seawater can be used directly for electrolysis, without desalination.
The DVGW successfully demonstrated the steps from hydrogen to e-methane: the provision of CO2 from the air was trialled in a long-term test. In addition, a new plant is already producing around ten cubic metres of pure methane per hour.
Hydrogen, methanol and methane undergo testing for ships, cars and electricity generation
In various sub-projects, the partners are working on engines that are able to efficiently burn renewable gases without any harmful by-products. A car engine built under the leadership of Ford is currently being put through its paces with e-methane. Coordinated by Rolls Royce Power Systems, an innovative petrol/large bore gas engine with hydrogen as the fuel is being investigated. The results to date are pleasing for the researchers: the combustion of hydrogen generates low pollutant emissions. The MethMare cluster shows how the maritime energy transition can be supported with fuels from renewable energies. One outcome of the investigations is that catalysts and highly complex high-pressure gas injection inside the engine can reduce methane emissions by over 80 percent compared to conventional gas engines in ships. Even the combustion of methanol in the large high-speed engine displays low pollutant emissions and prevents methane emissions entirely.
LNG supply and microgrid concept for the Karlsruhe Rhine harbour
The partners in the MethGrid sub-project designed a storage and distribution system for e-methane for the Karlsruhe Rhine harbour that will enable ships as well as lorries to be supplied with LNG and, in peak times, will support the high-pressure gas network in Baden-Württemberg. What’s more, researchers developed a complete, locally connected system for energy supply in the Karlsruhe Rhine harbour. This microgrid interlinks all existing sectors, electricity, gas, heat, transport and industry, to make optimal use of the available energy, including renewable energy. Last but not least, the partners are investigating how e-methane can be integrated into the entire German energy system.
“The partners in the MethQuest lead project are very satisfied with the current results. The additional findings expected by the end of the project in the autumn of 2021 will shed a huge amount of light on the topic of renewable methane—from costs through to feasibility as well as the impact on the environment and climate”, explains project coordinator Dr Manuel Boog, who works in technology development at Rolls Royce Power Systems.

Electricity from renewable energy sources can be used to produce e-methane using Power-to-Gas methods, which can easily be stored for subsequent use and enables a CO2-neutral cycle. The principle: renewable energy sources such as wind or solar supply electrical current. This is used for electrolysis, which breaks the water down into hydrogen and oxygen. This hydrogen as well as carbon dioxide from the air (CO2 separation) or biomass and the use of additional energy can be used to produce other synthetic fuels, such as e-methane, e-diesel and e-methanol.

Contact
If you have any questions or comments, please contact
Dr. Frank Graf
Division Manager Gas Technology

Phone+49 721 608-41220