Methane’s Global Warming Potential: 86 Times Higher than Carbon Dioxide

Roger Simonson, CTO – Black Powder Solutions – March 2021

Black Powder Solutions’ Technology Assists in Reducing Methane Gas Leakage, ESG Risks, and OPEX

“Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas and is about 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide if it escapes into the atmosphere before being burned. Studies show that natural gas power plants could be worse for climate change than coal plants if their leakage rate rises above 4%.” (Ramón A. Alvarez, 2018)1

“Corrosion and erosion of pipeline walls caused by Black Powder™ contamination (iron oxide compounds), primarily under 1 micron in particle size, reduces wall thickness (especially on bends and turns), reduces operational life, and results in methane leakage. Each process of a pipeline where there is gas compression, valves, flanges, meters, proving stations, filters, methane powered engines etc. is susceptible to wear causing methane leakage. Methane gas contaminated with Black Powder is the primary catalyst in causing failure to all of these equipment components.”
(Roger Simonson, Black Powder Solutions, 2021)

“The Journal of Science conducted a study regarding the rate of methane emission from domestic oil and gas operations. From their study, it was determined that the rate of methane emission was 2.3% of total production per year, which is 60% greater than the current estimate from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This represents about 13 million metric tons lost per year, or enough natural gas to fuel 10 million homes.”2

“A study by Environmental Science and Technology determined there is an estimated 630,000 leaks in U.S distribution mains, resulting in methane emissions of 0.69 trillion grams/year. When modeling the leak frequency, it was determined that there was a clear correlation between pipeline material and age. In the U.S alone, the nation methane emission is estimated to be five times greater than the EPA’s current greenhouse inventory estimate for pipeline mains in local distribution systems.” (Zachary D. Weller, 2020)3

Figure 1: Black Powder contamination cleaned from the natural gas pipeline in Portugal. The Black Powder is primarily under 1 micron in size.

“Fugitive emissions are usually caused by imperfections or ordinary wear in sealed joints such as flange gaskets, screwed connections, valve-stem packing, or by poorly seated valves. Improper installation can cause leaks, but leaks most commonly result from ordinary wear or stress that damages the sealed surface over time. Leaks can also come from the wall of a pressurized vessel or pipeline, because of corrosion or damage.”
(Methane Guiding Principles, 2019)4

“Key Notes:

  • Approximately 9% of methane emissions from natural gas transmission is from methane slippage.
  • Over half of compression power is from gas turbines which eliminate little methane.
  • Approximately 40% of methane emission from natural gas gathering stations are from methane slippage from engines/combustions.

Possible Solutions:

  • Reduced crevice volume
  • Combustion chamber redesign
  • Injection scheme to reduce fuel in CV
  • Ignition strategies to reduce packing of fuel in CV
  • Higher wall temperatures
  • Improved fuel characteristics.”
    (ARPA-E, 2020)

“Methane gas with Black Powder contamination will inhibit the burn efficiency, allowing unspent gas into the atmosphere. By cleaning Black Powder contamination from methane at every opportunity, premature wear of components will be reduced. This is a pre-emptive strategy to reduce methane gas leakage and reduce ESG risk. It will also allow operators to increase their environmental compliance and extend the life of their existing assets without new major capital investment.

Extending maintenance intervals and reducing unscheduled repair and replacement will increase overall equipment reliability and result in OPEX reduction.”
(Roger Simonson, Black Powder Solutions, 2021)