A climate-neutral fuel for the future
Synthetic natural gas (SNG) describes a variety of natural gas alternatives that are as close as possible in composition and properties to natural gas. SNG can be derived from coal, (waste) biomass or synthesized using renewable energy. The results of the latter two methods are often referred to as bio-SNG/biogas and e-gas/syngas. Depending on the source fuel, SNG can be a low-carbon or even carbon-free substitute for fossil fuels. Thanks to its composition, it can be mixed and used interchangeably with natural gas in all applications. Liquefied or compressed SNG can be transported or stored in the gas grid.
How do SNG production, gasification and methanation work?
Gasification is a non-combustion heating process that turns solid carbon fuels into hydrogen, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. If the gasification results from the natural anaerobic digestion of organic materials, for example, compost, manure or other waste, it is called bio-SNG or biogas and the process is biochemical SNG production. If the hydrogen is created by electrolysis (usually using renewable energy), the process is referred to as Power-to-Gas or Power-to-X and the resulting product is e-gas or syngas. The following methanation process, a chemical reaction aided by a catalyzer at high temperatures, turns the carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide into methane, the main component of natural gas. After a final cleaning step, it can be used in the same way, transported and stored in the same containers and grids or used to directly power gas engines.
How does SNG production and use reduce CO2 emissions?
The environmental impact of SNG depends on two main factors: the feedstock used to create the synthetic gas and the fuel replaced by the gas in its final application. Replacing heavy fuel oil with syngas from a Power-to-Gas reactor that also captures carbon could – under ideal circumstances – potentially cut 100% of emissions all along the value chain. All forms of SNG share one advantage: they can seamlessly be phased into global gas supplies according to availability. As cleaner, carbon-neutral supplies increase and their production becomes more energy efficient as part of the energy transition, they can slowly take over from natural gas.
Converting green energy into SNG with Power-to-X
The world needs quick and efficient solutions to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. A vital part of those solutions will be climate-neutral fuels derived from renewable energy, such as SNG. The Power-to-X process allows for just that. The technology converts renewable electricity into synthetic natural gas or hydrogen and makes CO2-neutral energy available whenever and wherever it is required.
World's first container ship to run on climate-neutral SNG
In September 2021, the 1,036-teu vessel ElbBLUE became the first container ship worldwide to use climate-neutral SNG on a commercial trip. With the pilot project MAN Energy Solutions and its partners have demonstrated that any LNG-retrofitted ship can run on fuels generated by Power-to-X technology, and even as a mix of fuels.