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Pursuing methanation as a means to recycle CO2

By Tetsuo Satoh |

By the end of fiscal 2019, commissioning and continuous operation will begin on a new methanation plant that will produce 8 Nm3/h of methane from CO2 and H2. The test facility, located at the Koshijihara Plant of Inpex’s Nagaoka Field Office in Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture, is part of an industry-government collaboration led by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO; Kawasaki City, Japan; www.nedo.go.jp), with partners Inpex Corp. (Tokyo; www.inpex.co.jp) and Hitachi Zosen Corp. (both Tokyo; www.hitachizosen.co.jp).

In the project (diagram), the partners aim to use this test facility to further develop methanation technology, which is one method for recycling CO2. For feedstock, the plant will use CO2 recovered from natural-gas processing at the Koshijihara Plant, and H2 generated from water electrolysis using renewable electricity. The product methane is said to have a great potential as an energy carrier, and offers significant benefits because existing infrastructure for natural gas can be employed directly.

Through later full-scale operation, the partners aim to evaluate and examine technical issues, including how to optimize the methane synthesis process by varying a range of parameters, including reaction temperature, reaction pressure and reaction loads, and to develop methanation technology. For methane synthesis, the test facility uses a Hitachi Zosen plate reactor that achieves highly efficient heat recovery. As the world’s first trial using actual CO2 in a plate reactor, this initiative is focused on the use of larger facilities in the future.

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