Burning Methane Could Improve Hydro-Electric Power

Hydro-electric dams can often cause significant damage to the environment by releasing methane into the atmosphere. Bacteria break down organic matter on the bottom of lakes and reservoirs, producing the natural gas. When intake pipes for hydro-electric plants suck this methane rich water or matter up, they release the gas into the air. It’s the reason for much controversy surrounding what is often thought of as a green source of power. In fact, some critics believe that certain dams contribute more to climate change than a fossil fuel plant would.However, hydro-electric power could be about to become a lot greener. Scientists in Brazil claim that capturing and burning this surplus methane is possible, and are developing a prototype to do just that. If it works, then it’s estimated that the technique could lower emissions by the equivalent of a years total of fossil fuel consumption in the UK. Some dams with an especially heavy methane problem could increase their output by up to 50%.

Dr Ramos of the National Space Research Institute, where the research originated, told the BBC, "we cannot hide from this problem; you have to address it. In fact, it's better to recognise there is a problem today, and to use this methane that is there as a commodity, harvest it to produce energy." :: BBC

Tags: Brazil