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Thursday, March 18, 2021 

The MethanQuest project, launched in September 2018, has involved a total of 29 partners from research, industry and the energy sector, including, in a leading role, Rolls-Royce Power Systems, working on processes for producing hydrogen and methane from renewables and for using them to achieve climate-neutral power on land and sea.

The project participants have now submitted interim results, relating to electrolysis systems for production of hydrogen, both on land and in offshore wind parks, equipment for producing methane, the use of gas engines in ships other applications, and concepts for energy systems that efficiently couple the various industry sectors. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) is providing some €19m in funds to the MethanQuest project.

Norbert Brackmann, Member of the German Bundestag and Federal Government Coordinator for the maritime industry, said: “The energy revolution demands that we find innovative solutions for using renewables to make new fuels for mobility and power generation. So it's essential to identify future trends at an early stage and promote their development. This is why we began funding the MethanQuest research project in 2018, and its interim results already show very valuable findings.”

“Gas in LNG form is beginning to gain a foothold as a new marine fuel,” said project coordinator Dr Frank Graf from DVGW Research Centre, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

Six subprojects are working on the separate research projects within MethanQuest.

The MethanFuel group is researching new processes for manufacturing methane out of renewables. All the technologies involved – from water electrolysis to CO2 extraction and methanation – have been examined and enhanced.

AREVA H2Gen, in collaboration with its project partners Fraunhofer ISE und iGas energy, has developed an innovative PEM electrolysis system. in which hydrogen is produced using electrical power generated from renewables. TU Berlin is looking into how seawater can be used directly for electrolysis without the need for prior desalination.

The process steps involved in turning hydrogen into e-methane were successfully demonstrated at DVGW and the Engler-Bunte-Institut, Teilinstitut Chemische Energieträger - Brennstofftechnologie (EBI ceb) of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. A long-term experiment in pulling CO2 from the air was conducted, and a new plant has been put in place that is capable of producing 10m3/h of pure methane. 

In various sub-projects, the partners are working on engines capable of efficiently combusting gas made from renewables without producing harmful by-products. Coordinated by Rolls-Royce Power Systems, a large-sized innovative Otto gas engine (pictured) fuelled by hydrogen is being tested. Results so far show that hydrogen combustion produces low levels of noxious emissions.

The MethanMare group aims to demonstrate how fuels made from renewables could support the energy revolution in the maritime sector. Research has found that with the use of catalysers and an extremely complex technique for high-pressure gas injection, emissions from a methane-powered ship engine can be lowered by up to 80% compared with those of a conventional gas engine. It has been shown that methanol combustion in large high-speed engines gives rise to low contaminant emissions and zero methane emissions.

“Partners of the MethanQuest project are highly satisfied with the results obtained so far. The further findings we make up until the autumn when the project ends will provide us with an all-round understanding of renewable methane – from the costs it involves and its feasibility up to its impact on the climate and environment,” said project coordinator Dr Manuel Boog, Rolls-Royce Power Systems.

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