Understanding how a catalyst converts methane into ethene could prevent the flaring of natural gas

Photo of landfill burn off flare. Credit: Eddie Hagler/Public Domain

It would be a triple win—for the climate, raw material resources, and the chemical industry. With their work, scientists at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society in Berlin hope to create the basis for extracting useful chemical products such as plastics from the methane that is usually flared off during oil production. They are looking into how to design a catalyst that converts methane into ethene more efficiently than is currently possible. They have now found a ground-breaking clue.

Around 140 billion cubic meters of methane, which escapes during global oil production, are flared every year. This is considerably more than the estimated 90 billion cubic meters of natural gas that Germany consumed in 2019. This not only fuels climate change but also wastes a non-renewable fossil fuel. However, it would not be profitable to build pipelines

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Arctic ‘Sleeping Giants’ Waking Up, Starting To Release Methane: Report


  • Scientists found evidence that the Arctic “sleeping giants” are starting to wake up
  • Preliminary findings provide evidence of methane deposits being released
  • The impact of the emissions is still unclear but it could be problematic for climate warming

A team of researchers found evidence that the “sleeping giants” of the Arctic Ocean may be starting to release methane. This could be problematic for an already warming planet.

Methane is a greenhouse gas that has a shorter lifespan than carbon dioxide but is much more potent at trapping radiation. As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explained, “pound for pound,” methane’s impact is 25 times greater than that of carbon dioxide in a period of 100 years. 

In the Siberian Arctic coastal regions, there are methane hydrates or crystals of methane gas molecules that are trapped between the solid water molecules. Called “sleeping giants,” these methane hydrates could be

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Satellites picture methane across the globe

Want to understand what methane is doing in our atmosphere?

Take a look at the new interactive global map produced by Montreal firm GHGSat.

Its Pulse tool allows you to move around the world to see how concentrations of the powerful greenhouse gas vary in space and time.

From the highs above oil and gas fields in the southwestern United States, to the naturally elevated levels in permafrost regions during summer.

The map shows monthly averages which, GHGSat says it will update weekly.

Pulse combines the focussed data from the company’s two small methane-detecting spacecraft with the wide-field observations from the EU and European Space Agency’s Sentinel-5P Tropomi mission.

The Canadian pair are used to “tune up” the European detections so the map can display concentrations on a 2km by 2km grid scale.

Centre the map over southern China, and you can see the effect the country’s fleet of coal-fired

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