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SoCalGas, PG&E and Opus 12 improve RNG-producing technology

Published by
Energy Global,


Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas), Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), and Opus 12 have announced they have demonstrated further advancement of a new electrochemical technology that converts the CO2 content in raw biogas to pipeline-quality renewable natural gas, a critical improvement in the science of upgrading waste emissions to renewable gas. The single-step process is designed to use renewable electricity, and therefore also provides a way for long-term storage of excess wind and solar power. The 12-month research and development effort was funded by SoCalGas and PG&E and builds on the success of an initial feasibility study in 2018.

Raw biogas is produced from the anaerobic breakdown of waste from sources like landfills, sewage, and dairy farms. It contains roughly 60% methane (the main component of natural gas), and 40% CO2. While current biogas upgrading technology removes the CO2 from biogas, this new technology captures the CO2 and converts it into additional renewable fuel.

The new demonstration shows that improved catalyst activity could speed reactions by five times and nearly double conversion efficiency, making the technology commercially competitive with other new biogas upgrading methods. The core technology was scaled up and tested using commercially available electrolyser hardware. The next step will be to test this technology for longer periods at an existing biogas facility.

Opus 12, a clean-energy start-up with its origins at Stanford University and the Cyclotron Road programme at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, has created a new proprietary Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) electrolyzer that uses electricity to convert water and CO2 into renewable natural gas in one step. The technology differs from those that use microorganisms.

The research is part of SoCalGas' and PG&E's respective development of cutting-edge technologies for storing excess renewable energy. Because gases can be easily stored for long periods of time using existing infrastructure, these technologies have distinct advantages over storing renewable electricity in batteries.

Read the article online at: https://www.energyglobal.com/bioenergy/24062020/socalgas-pge-and-opus-improve-rng-producing-technology/

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