Methane Earth

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by wet1, Feb 12, 2002.

  1. wet1 Wanderer Registered Senior Member


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    Methane Earth
    Credit: GISS, NASA
    Can you help in reducing this blanket of methane gas that is warming up our Earth? Recent evidence holds that methane (CH4) is second only to carbon dioxide (CO2) in creating a warming greenhouse effect but is easier to control. Atmospheric methane has doubled over the past 200 years, and its smothering potency is over 20 times that of CO2. Methane may even be responsible for a sudden warming of the Earth by seven degrees Celsius about 55 million years ago. As most methane is produced biologically, the gas is sometimes associated with bathroom humor. The largest abundance released by the US, however, is created when anaerobic bacteria break down carbon-based garbage in landfills. Therefore, a more effective way to help our planet than trying to restrict your own methane emissions would be to encourage efficient landfill gas management.
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  3. Hevene Registered Senior Member

    Why can't we just suck it out? :bugeye:

    The increase in Methane could be just a pattern in the natural climate. We are trying to find out if us is causing this warming of the planet, but how can we tell if it's natural?
    The problem is more serious than most people thought, some think of only CO2, but as a whole, it is really hard to manage. It should start from every individuals, reducing garbage from household to household. We can depend on just a few people, to solve a global problem.
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  5. Edufer Tired warrior Registered Senior Member

    Methane, CO2, CFCs, what else now?

    The main "greenhouse gas" is water vapour (or humidity, the one that "kills" you when it gets really hot in Miami). It accounts to 95% of Earth's atmosphere capacity to hold heat. Then it comes CO2 with a capacity of about 3.5%, and the rest is distributed among other trace gases as Argon, CFCs, Methane, etc.

    Even if methane has 20 times greater capacity for heath retaining than CO2, translated to real figures it would account for less than 1% of the atmosphere capacity. Please let the cows belch at their heart's content, and let trillions of ants produce its daily amount of methane.

    Perhaps somebody would suggest to get rid of all rice paddies in the world, so billions of people will starve to death and there will be less people producing methane and CO2. A Greenpeace dream!
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  7. Xev Registered Senior Member

    That and - I wonder if a organism could be genetically engineered so that it would convert methane to, say, oxygen? An organic sorbent?

    A bit less farfetched. Are there any chemicals that absorb methane well?
  8. wet1 Wanderer Registered Senior Member

    There have been some experiments with using methane, generated from garbage, for home lighting. Somewhere, I ran across the results of this, quite some time back. I think that it also mentioned that it was ideal for energy starved third world countries.

    Another possibility is using methane for fuel cells. Cleaner generation of electricity and capturing the emitted gas from a landfill (say the size of NYC's) done world wide would indeed supply some renewable energy.
  9. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

    It's called Power regeneration, and has been on the books for sometime.

    It's like Landfill tips are often not talked about the true depths of exactly how much methane is kicked out, and especially for how long.

    It's known that landfill tips have been built on 10-20 years after decomissioning and the land is still producing a quantity of metane. (The problem with this of course, is the "Gas migration" to buildings built on top of or near landfills. The gas can accumilate within cellars and become an explosion waiting to happen)

    There was something I once saw where a person in a house near a landfill had their whole house blown up by a gas cloud. (a methane smog)

    The main thing is that old landfill site and new landfill site have two differences. The old ones don't have the imbedded pipelining for syphoning the gas from the land, the newer ones are built to incorporate it.

    This means that the older landfills are a real problem child for people to sort out.

    Another problem is the bi-product of HYDROGEN SULPHIDE (H²S)
    This gas can't be detected in high quantities as it start's killing of your senses (just before it kills you) Even some gas analyser equipment isn't made for detecting it.

    Presently Landfills work with a backup "Flare" system, or just the "Flare". The idea being that an open piece of pipe burning off excess gas is actually helping.

    Well it might stop the explosive problems, but an open end piece of pipe isn't really the answer, as it's combustion is inefficient and it can actually be outputting high quantities of N<SUB>OX</SUB> gas. (so acid rain can be contributed to landfill flares and even flares from oil rigs which burn at a higher temperature)

    Even with Repower generation its still necessary to have a flare incase the power-plant has to be closed for maintainence or if the gas starts to build up to beyond safety levels.

    I would mention a flare system that uses a patented technique to adjust a bunch of conditions to flare at an optimum and efficient temperature (infact so well it's emission are classed as TRACE)

    Only reason I don't... well If I told you, you'll know who I am lol.
  10. Edufer Tired warrior Registered Senior Member

    It is not farfetched at all. I will quote an article on <b>Discover</b> magazine, September 1981, page 78:

    "Using of genetic engineering, Ananda Chakrabarty creates new bacteria that consumes society's wastes. Last year Chakrabarty, a microbiologist at the Univeristy of Illinois, gained prominence when the Supreme Court, in a historic decision, ruled that he could patent a new oil-eating bacterium, thus making certain life forms patentable. Now he and his colleagues have invented another bacterium--one that eats the herbicide 2,4,5-T."
    "Could his new technique produce bacteria that eat DDT, for example? Says Chakrabarty, 'It's just a matter of time' ".

    The bacteria used today in cleaning oil spills in the oceans are the work of Chakrabarty. Try a search on the internet on Ananda Chakrabarty, if you are interested. This scientist is a big name today in the field of genetically modified crops.

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