Enlarge / Hard to believe that this stuff could cut carbon emissions. (credit: Department of Energy)
The boom in natural gas production has been essential to the drop in carbon emissions in the US, as methane, the primary component of natural gas, releases more energy for each carbon atom when burned.

But there’s still a carbon atom in each molecule of methane, so switching to natural gas will eventually lead to diminishing returns when it comes to emissions reductions.

To keep our climate moderate, we’ll eventually need to move off natural gas, as well.
But two new papers out this week suggest we could use natural gas without burning it.

They detail efficient methods of converting methane to hydrogen in ways that let us capture much or all of the carbon left over.

The hydrogen could then be burned or converted to electricity in a fuel cell—including mobile fuel cells that power cars.

The supply obtained from methane could also be integrated with hydrogen from other sources.
The tech involved is also pretty cool in its own right, involving things like catalysts dissolved in liquid metal and solid materials that allow current to travel through them as protons, rather than as electrons.
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