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And why methane abatement is a key path to achieving climate change goals

The Vision

Methane is both a useful fuel and a very powerful GHG. With the mandate to reduce GHG emissions it is critical that we use this precious resource efficiently and effectively, as part of the energy transition into greater renewables and a cleaner, healthier world. To achieve the goal of a net zero GHG emissions energy future, not only must we embrace renewable energy, and make our current energy infrastructure much cleaner, but very importantly, if we expect to achieve Paris Agreement climate goals and continued global growth, we need to exploit negative emission sources of energy.

Getting to net zero emissions requires not just lowering net emissions but investing in negative emissions technologies [1].

Negative emission energy means taking resources being routinely wasted today and turning it into renewable electricity and heat. Negative emission energy sources are found everywhere; in organic waste streams going into landfills, our wastewater, our crop and dairy farms, and our existing landfills and even abandoned wells. It exists and will continue to exist where there is life, growth, and organic waste streams. Without technological solution to capture the energy coming from the millions of sources the world over, methane emission into the atmosphere continues unabated, where instead of being a useful energy source, it is now a potent GHG gas with 84X the warming potential of carbon dioxide [2].

The Mission

Qnergy’s mission is to capture and deliver energy everywhere there is a methane resource. We provide reliable, affordable, and net zero emissions electricity from raw gas, whether natural, landfill, or biogas, where it occurs and where it is needed. These many and diverse sources, often deemed too small to collect by the centralized, aggregation model based mindset, but now as we know, too large collectively to ignore, constitute a significant fraction of the total methane lost to the atmosphere today.

Distributed methane, as in its dual nature as a useful fuel and GHG gas, is both a challenge to address and a significant economic opportunity to harvest negative emission energy to derisk and accomplish climate change strategy [3].

The 349,000 kT of methane lost to the atmosphere each year from organic waste in landfills, agriculture crop and manure waste, and the energy industry due to venting and leaks, is enormous. It is equivalent to more than 22 trillion cubic feet of methane, sufficient to provide 73% of natural gas demand in the U.S. in 2021, 160% of the European Union, and 16% of global gas usage. The economic value [4] of not taking advantage of this natural resource exceeds $200 billion U.S. each year.

The Solution

We seek to make zero carbon energy available everywhere for everyone. As such, we heartily support the clean energy-transition.  Indeed, Qnergy is already helping many of our customers better and more cleanly capture and deliver methane for net zero methane emissions operations. But we all know that full and complete transition won’t happen overnight. And further, it won’t happen everywhere for everyone if we only rely on large scale, centralized, aggregation models for creating and delivering net zero energy. But this conventional economy-of-scale based thinking ignores large swaths of the economy and sources of distributed methane.  

To achieve clean energy everywhere for everyone, what we need is a holistic strategy for distributed power anytime anywhere, and one of the fastest ways to deliver this is through our existing but unexploited sources of methane-based energy. To this end Qnergy is already a leading, proven, and committed partner to helping the natural gas industry achieve net zero methane emissions, and we are moving to help landfill owners and operators convert closed landfill gas into renewable electricity, to aid small farmers convert farm waste into useful electricity and heat, and towns to better extract energy from wastewater.

The Technology

A distributed energy future requires new kind of distributable power generation; a mobile power plant delivering utility grade electricity 24/7/365 that is low footprint, plug and play, fuel flexible for the future, near zero total GHG emissions, and extremely reliable for zero required maintenance for ease of adoption and use.

Qnergy delivers just such a solution. Our free piston Stirling external combustion engine design uses no rotary parts, no lubricants, and is NASA testified as “the longest running heat engine in history” with no maintenance required [5].  Our engine is an energy platform that takes raw methane from any source; wellhead, anaerobic digester, landfill, or others (in fact, any gaseous fuel mixes, including propane, hydrogen, in a fuel flexible manner), and converts it into utility grade electricity and useful heat, anywhere, addressing the “long tail” problem of delivering clean distributed energy to all. 

The Value Proposition

We work with our customers and partners to create a methane emission free world; a world where this natural source of energy can be productively used wherever it is generated and found. As a case in point, we are helping the energy industry achieve net zero methane emissions by combining power plus compressed air as a solution to abate the close to 20% of all energy industry methane loss through pneumatic devices [6]. In 2022 these installations abated more than 200,000 annual tCO2e [7].

We seek to work with partners to find solutions for organic waste and landfills, farms and agricultural waste, towns and wastewater, and even businesses and homes. Methane will always be with us as it is a natural product of life, growth, and organic waste streams. And it is a precious source of energy when utilized well, bringing energy resilience, equality, and clean energy, not for a few or even many, but for all.

1. The Trouble with Negative Emissions, Anderson, K. & Peters, G.P. Science: 354; 182-182, 2016. [link]

2. Myhre, G., D. et al. Anthropogenic and Natural Radiative Forcing. In: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. [link]

3. Too Small to Collect but Too Large to Ignore: Converting Methane Emission from Distributed

Sources to Useful Energy. A Qnergy White Paper [link]

4.U.S. Energy Information Administration, Natural Gas Monthly; January 2023 [link]

5.It keeps going and going: Stirling Engine test sets long-duration record at NASA Glenn. [link]

6. United States: TotalEnergies and Qnergy deploy an innovative technology to reduce methane emissions on the Barnett field. [link]

7. Qnergy is Proud to Offset the Emissions of All the Cars in Ogden, Utah! [link]

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