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Methane

— Environment

Arctic winter observations show higher-than-expected methane emissions

A new study led by researchers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and San Diego State University (SDSU) has examined the amount of methane gas escaping from the Arctic – a key component of global warming. The results go against conventional theory, finding that a much larger amount of the gas escapes during the Arctic winter than previously thought.

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— Environment

High-tech camera allows us to see invisible methane gas

Although methane is one of the most potent of the greenhouses gases, scientists still aren't entirely clear on all of its ground-based sources. That's why researchers from Sweden's Linköping and Stockholm universities have created a camera that's capable of imaging methane in real time. They say that it could find use in monitoring sources such as sludge deposits, combustion processes, farms and lakes.

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— Environment

New process produces hydrogen from methane, without emitting CO2

Natural gas accounts for over 28 percent of US energy consumption. Its main component, methane, is a widely-used fossil fuel but also a major contributor to rising CO2 levels, and thus climate change. To address this issue, researchers from the Institute of Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have developed a process that extracts the energy content of methane, in the form hydrogen, without producing carbon dioxide.

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— Environment

Coffee grounds recycled as carbon capture material

Coffee grounds are not exactly noxious despoilers of the environment, but many millions of tons of them are generated every year and simply disposed of with other vegetable matter and food waste. Now, researchers have devised a way to utilize this innocuous waste product to get rid of a much more dangerous one. By modifying used coffee grounds into a carbon capture material, the new product may provide a simple, inexpensive way to remove a prolific and harmful greenhouse gas from the atmosphere.

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— Energy

Hybrid artificial photosynthesis technique produces hydrogen and methane

Not content with using hybrid artificial photosynthesis to turn CO2 emissions into plastics and biofuel, researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) now claim to have produced an enhanced system that uses water and solar energy to generate hydrogen, which is in turn used to produce methane, the main element of natural gas, from carbon dioxide. Generating such gases from a renewable resource may one day help bolster, or even replace, fossil fuel resources extracted from dwindling sub-surface deposits.

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— Space

Saturnian moon may have deep-ocean vents that harbor life

In science, it's often the case that solving one mystery just raises more questions. Take Saturn's moon Enceladus. For almost a decade, scientists have been puzzled by the gossamer plumes that waft up from its surface. Data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft now indicates that these may might be due to present-day hydrothermal activity in the vast ocean beneath the crust of the frozen moon, raising the possibility that Enceladus may harbor life. Read More
— Space

Curiosity finds active organic chemistry on Mars

The hunt for present or past life on Mars got a boost as NASA's Curiosity rover records spikes in atmospheric methane ten times greater than previously measured by the unmanned probe. Though the levels are far below those found on Earth, methane is a key indicator that life may be or may once have been present. In addition, the nuclear-powered explorer has also detected the first confirmed organic compounds in drill samples taken from Martian rocks. Read More
— Space

Converting human waste into rocket fuel

Flushing the human waste produced on space missions out an airlock isn't an option for astronauts. Currently its stored in containers before being loaded into cargo vehicles that burn up as they pass through Earth's atmosphere, but researchers at the University of Florida (UF) have found a better use for the material, by developing a process to turn it into rocket fuel. Read More
— Space

Firefly Space Systems unveils Alpha launch vehicle design with aerospike engine

The signs of a healthy industry isn't just growth or innovation, but a tendency to reach out and fill niche markets. A case in point is the small satellite launch company Firefly Space Systems, which recently unveiled its planned Alpha launcher. Aimed at the small satellite launch market, it's designed to launch satellites into low-Earth orbit (LEO) at very low cost with an unconventional aerospike engine. It is also the first orbital launcher to use methane as fuel. Read More
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