Johnson Matthey is commercialising a new technology that can be used to abate 1.5% of manmade greenhouse gas emissions

A potent greenhouse gas

Methane is the main component of natural gas, and is a potent greenhouse gas. Although it doesn't remain in the atmosphere as long as carbon dioxide, in the first 20 years after its release its warming effect is 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Methane can escape from many processes. Traditionally waste methane in industrial processes has been vented or flared, which is bad news for the environment. In fact, ventilation air methane (VAM) contributes more than 300 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent to the atmosphere every year – around 1.5% of total manmade greenhouse gas emissions.

The technologies available to date to treat VAM emissions have been too expensive, preventing their adoption. Expert teams of Johnson Matthey chemical engineers and catalyst chemists and Anglo Coal mining engineers have worked together to develop an improved solution for abating VAM emissions from mine ventilation shafts.

An effective and economic solution

Our new COMET™ technology catalytically oxidises methane quickly and easily, delivering a VAM conversion rate of more than 99% at low temperatures. It also has a low operating cost and makes economic sense wherever carbon credit prices are favourable. The technology is inherently safe and at sufficient concentrations of methane is power neutral or even able to export power to the grid.

The technology is now being commercialised and the team is working to develop it further for use in other industries.

A deeper look

Read more about methane removal in Vol 60 Issue 3 of the Johnson Matthey Technology Review: COMET TM – A New Ventilation Air Methane (VAM) Abatement Technology