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How to control methane?

Methane can be used in useful ways, there must be some way of controlling it? What are the problems with it? What could we use methane for?
Alina Akhtar from Lancashire (age 15-24)

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2 Responses

  1. Methane is great, it makes up most of the gas we use to cook with and heat our homes. It is a really good energy source compared to other fossil fuels because you get more energy for less carbon dioxide emissions (less than half the emissions from coal fro instance). The problem is that it is a greenhouse gas in its own right, and a powerful one at that. Every kilogram of it that is released into the air warms the Earth 25 times more than a kilogram of carbon dioxide would. The main natural sources are wetlands and termites, but about half of all the methane emitted each year comes from human activities like rice cultivation, ruminant livestock (cow burps are methane-rich), and landfill sites. We can control these methane emissions by trapping and reusing the methane from landfill sites, using varieties of rice that don’t need the waterlogged, methane-producing soils that other types need, and by altering the feed of livestock (or eating less meat) to cut down on cow and sheep-based methane.

  2. Anaerobic digestion is a process that can help to store methane. It’s had a long history, nearly 4000 years ago civilisations used crude digesters to make methane for cooking.

    Trouble is the process isn’t very efficient and relies on bacteria breaking down waste. So cow manure and vegetable wastes can be turned into a useable source but the majoirty doesn’t come from cows (see above post).

    There are a few farms that have tried to do this on a commercial scale but they haven’t managed it without subsidies yet but as more time is spent asking questions like your the more likely the process gets refined and more efficient.

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