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Global Warming, I’m certain by now most of the public worldwide know what this concept is about, and most probably tired of hearing what a huge problem it is but no long term solutions are being proposed. Unfortunately that is still a working progress, but in the mean time we can try to reduce the after effects of Global warming such as climate change by tackling each greenhouse gas in the atmosphere such as Methane.
Methane (CH4) is the primary component of natural gas and an important energy source. Methane is also a green house gas, meaning that its presence in the atmosphere affects the Earth’s temperature and climate system. Due to its relatively short life time in the atmosphere (9-15 years) and its global warming potency – 20 times more effective than carbon dioxide (CO2) in trapping heat in the atmosphere – reducing methane emissions should be an effective means to reduce climate warming on a relatively short timescale.
Human influenced sources of methane include landfills, natural gas and petroleum production and distribution systems, agricultural activities, coal mining, stationary and mobile combustion, wastewater treatment, and certain industrial processes. About 60% of global methane emissions come from these sources and the rest are from natural sources (IPCC, 2001). Natural sources include wetlands, termites, oceans, and hydrates (which consists of methane molecules each surrounded by a cage of water molecules and are present in seafloor deposits around the world.
The historical record, based on analysis of air bubbles trapped in ice sheets, indicates that methane is more abundant in the earth’s atmosphere now than at any time during the past 400,000 years (IPCC, 2001). Over the last two centuries, methane concentrations in the atmosphere have more than doubled.
Based on the above information it is quite evident that methane emissions are a huge problem if not trapped in time and used effectively. There are methods being introduced to reduce methane in the atmosphere involving various technology and utilization of many organisms, but I believe all the methods work but the most effective method would be trapping methane in the atmosphere. This method is possible, but currently it only applies to CO2; but that might just change.
One of the most effective methods of methane reduction is methane fermentation by microbes. Methane fermentation is the consequence of a series of metabolic interactions among various groups of microorganisms. My interest is the ability of methane-oxidizing archaea and sulfur-reducing bacteria to work in consortia to oxidize methane anaerobically in anoxic marine sediments. Scientists believe that archaea uses the reversed methanogenesis pathway to produce carbon dioxide and another, unknown substance. This unknown substance is then used by the sulfur-reducing bacteria to gain energy from the reduction of sulfate to hydrogen sulfide. With this knowledge many scientist are still try to figure out how to bring methane in atmosphere to these microbes in order to reduce it by oxidation process. In addition to the problem I came up with a solution that tackles the problem in a different direction…
My aim is to reduce methane in the atmosphere by using the methane-oxidizing archaea and sulfur-reducing bacteria still working in consortia but in a controlled manner and preferably working in the atmosphere not on the ground level.
Based on the knowledge I obtained, theoretically if we can create a controlled environment for the methane-oxidizing archaea and sulfur-reducing bacteria and contain the environment then transport them to the atmosphere, trap methane for them and allow them to oxidize the trapped methane, methane will be reduced greatly in the atmosphere.
I believe I have found a way to do this. I introduce the MOM-Bot 1.0 (Methane Oxidizing Microbot)
The main function of the MOM-Bot 1.0 is to act as a carrier of the methane-oxidizing archaea and sulfur-reducing bacteria to the atmosphere, but also aid in trapping air from the atmosphere filtering methane gas from the mixture of gases in atmospheric air by condensing the gas, then evaporating the organic compound once separated from the rest of the gases and then transported to the microbes for oxidation reaction.
Below is a link which will direct you to the schematic diagram indicating all the equipment used to create the machine and how it operates.
The MOM-Bot will be controlled by an operator by using a computer, therefore it will be equip with wireless technology and it will consist of a motherboard with CPU attached to it. It will get its source of energy from a micro hydro-electric generator. The operator only controls the units 1-3 based on time intervals which will be determined by experiments on how long it takes to reach a specific amount of liquid methane in a specific volume of test tube, and how long it takes for the test tube to be emptied.
Air enters unit 1 by centrifugal compressor which is then carried through the pipette tubes down to the Dewar flask, the flask is filled with liquid nitrogen and a test tube which will contain liquid methane is submerged into the liquid nitrogen. The air from the Atmosphere will then be transported into the test tube where methane gas in the air will be condensed into liquid phase due to the decreased temperature by the liquid nitrogen. The rest of the gases will not be condensed; as the liquid methane increase the pressure increases pushing the rest of the air through the second pipette tube and also the second centrifugal compressor will help by pulling the air toward it into unit 2 and released back into the atmosphere. After a certain time when the liquid methane has reached a certain volume in the test tube, it will be drained into the third compartment by opening the gate which is the pathway for it to travel downwards into the third compartment. The gate is opened by Unit 3 after a certain time, the large turn wheel is activated rotating anti-clockwise at a certain degree based on the width of the pipette tube on the test tube to the third compartment causing the small turn wheel attached to the gate handle to rotate clock-wise moving the gate handle backwards. Once the liquid methane is drained the large turn wheel will rotated at the same degree as before clockwise, causing the small turn wheel to rotate anti-clockwise pushing the gate handle forward and closing the gate. The liquid methane while entering the third compartment, some of it will be evaporated some will then be poured into a spherical container, and then later the liquid will also evaporate into the gaseous methane. The liquid methane only evaporates at temperatures equal or greater than room temperature, therefore there will be a micro heater in the spherical container ensuring that the third compartment’s temperature is at room temperature or slightly above. The side wall of the spherical cylinder have micro pores or holes allowing the methane gas to diffuse to the rest of compartment area then later also diffusing into the controlled microbe environment where the gas will be oxidized.
The machines operation and functions are theoretical; experiments still need to be done for example to see if methane gas will be able to be separated from air by condensation.
I believe the invention will reduce methane gas already in the atmosphere by a great percentage, hence reducing climate change. The best part is the machine does not release any harmful gases and operates by an eco-friendly generator, and this means the machine does not contribute to global warming. Methods of how the machine will be transported to the atmosphere are still being studied.
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Holmes, A.J; Roslev, P. 1999. Characterization of methanotrophic bacterial populations in soils showing atmospheric methane uptake. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 65 (8): 33122-8
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