Energy | January 14, 2009 |
Landfills Could Produce Hydrogen and Graphite
These days one man’s waste is another’s energy supply. Plenty of landfills now turn methane gas into energy and sell it, and many companies are willing to purchase that energy. But does using methane from landfills to inexpensively produce graphite and hydrogen sound too good to be true?
Catalyx Nanotech, a nanotechnology company, and Dudek, a California-focused environmental and engineering consulting firm, don’t think so. In fact, they’ve paired up to do just that and are searching for Southern California landfills on which to site production facilities.
Catalyx Nanotech uses a patented catalyst to sequester the carbon from a landfill’s methane and turn it into hydrogen and graphite – a “valuable product used in aerospace, automobiles, [and] batteries,” according to a press release. The company hopes that offering low-cost hydrogen in urban areas will “help minimize the logistical hurdles for a hydrogen economy,” and could “eliminate the carbon footprint associated with conventional hydrogen production from fossil fuels.” Not too shabby.
Many landfills have begun converting methane gas to electricity. The Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site sells the electricity to a local utilities company and generates enough power to light up almost 3,000 homes. And many companies are eating it up, such as Mars, which makes snack foods, pet food and drinks. The Snickers manufacturer uses landfill gas to produce steam that powers its Waco plant – a move that should save the company approximately $600,000 a year in energy costs.
But in addition to providing a more eco-friendly energy source, the Catalyx Nanotech innovation is amazing because it produces more than just energy. By producing hydrogen and graphite, the innovatie process could advance the alternative fuel vehicle industry by providing a power source for fuel cells and lighter materials for making the cars.