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© 2013 Unique Global Possibilities, Inc.


The combustion of fossil fuels such as methane (natural gas) and coal is considered by many in the community to be a major source of carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas) emissions associated with climate change.  In addition, the combustion of coal in air produces several nitrogenous compounds which are often released into the atmosphere.

One alternative to fossil fuel combustion is the use of renewable sources of energy such as solar or wind.  However, renewable sources of energy are inherently variable.  It is considered that one method of stabilizing the variability of renewable energy is to store energy during periods of high availability (strong sunlight, high wind, etc.).  This stored energy can then be released during periods when renewable energy is not available (lack of sunlight, lack of wind, etc.).

Under appropriate conditions, the chemical reaction of water and carbon dioxide produces protons in relatively high concentrations.  That is, carbon dioxide facilitates the splitting of water.

When an electric current is passed between two electrodes that are immersed in a carbon dioxide/water mixture, hydrogen gas is produced at the cathode from the protons in solution.  At similar voltage, the amount of hydrogen gas produced from a mixture of carbon dioxide and water is many times the amount produced by electrolysis of water per se.  

In a carbon dioxide/water mixture, the protons and bicarbonate ions (carbon dioxide hydroxide) act as electrolytes and hence there is no damage to, or dissolution of, electrodes.

The hydrogen produced at the cathode can be either combusted on site or stored or reacted with carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion to produce methane.  Both hydrogen and methane can be produced during periods when renewable energy is available in excess.  With the production of methane a ‘semi-closed’ loop is formed in relation to both methane and water in those industrial systems that utilize methane as an energy source.  Methane itself becomes ‘a renewable energy source’. View a poster presentation of methane as a renewable energy source.

Methane as a renewable energy source

In addition, the hydrogen produced can be added directly to existing natural gas (or methane) transmissions systems. This would be beneficial if relatively small reductions in carbon dioxide emissions are required by law or public policy - say, five to twenty per cent carbon dioxide reduction.  The natural gas (or methane) transmission system could be injected with hydrogen to a concentration that decreases total carbon dioxide emissions by the relevant small percentage.  Once again, a ‘semi-closed’ loop is formed.  Blending hydrogen gas with natural gas (or methane) is a well documented procedure utilized in many parts of the world - for example in Honolulu, Hawaii, methane gas is delivered with significant hydrogen blends.  View a Technical Report from the US Department of Energy on blending hydrogen into natural gas (methane) pipeline networks.

Methane can be produced also by reacting hydrogen with carbon dioxide emissions from the combustion of coal.  In this case, although carbon dioxide emissions are decreased or eliminated, a source of soft water (snow melt, rain water) is necessary to produce methane and a closed or semi-closed loop is not available.  This occurs because coal combustion does not produce water whereas methane and hydrogen combustion produce water which can be recycled potentially.

(Coal)           C + OCO

(Methane)    CH + 2OCO  + 2HO

(Hydrogen)   2H + O2HO

The long term future of the coal industry, and industries dependent on coal and coal fired electricity production, may depend on changing the public perception of coal from a polluting substance to a clean energy source.  Indeed, even if the coal industry’s future is relatively secure through the proven reliability of coal combustion for industry and electricity production, converting coal to a perceived clean energy source is desirable socially, politically and economically.

Unique Global Possibilities has developed a process to utilize carbon dioxide emissions from the combustion of coal to produce hydrogen and methane that can be utilized further as energy sources.  In this process carbon dioxide is recycled.  The oxygen produced in the process can be utilized in the Oxyfuel combustion of coal to decrease the nitrogenous compounds formed when coal is combusted in air.  Using this process, nitrogenous compounds and carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere are decreased considerably - and possibly eliminated.

Unique Global Possibilities has developed a process of producing both hydrogen and methane efficiently and economically by recycling carbon dioxide.  In this process, hydrogen and methane can be produced in sufficient quantities to be practical for energy use and energy storage and practical for decreasing carbon dioxide emissions.

View summary of current research activity

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