Mcgill University partners with Xebec to develop power-to-gas process for renewable energy storage

   Xebec Adsorption Inc. will co-develop a prototype reactor to produce Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) using a Power-to-Gas (P2G) process with McGill University. This process combines electricity generated from renewable sources with carbon dioxide (CO2) generated from waste. The project is being funded by Xebec as the Industrial sponsor and by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) through a Collaborative Research and Development grant of $360,000 over a period of three years. Electricity generated from renewable energy sources (e.g., wind and solar) is increasing worldwide. In 2016, the installed wind power in Canada was ~12,000 MW (6% of the electricity demand), with the highest share1 provided by Quebec and Ontario. But wind energy fluctuates and sunshine is intermittent, so energy storage becomes vitally important to bridge the gap between energy supply and demand.

   The Power-to-Gas process combined with the existing national gas pipeline offers a larger storage capacity and longer discharge time than current technologies such as batteries and pump storage systems. The P2G process uses renewable electricity to produce hydrogen by electrolysis of water which is then converted into RNG (i.e. methane), using the carbon dioxide recovered from municipal waste. Existing gas distribution infrastructure and mature end-use technology can then be fully utilized, overcoming the current challenges of energy storage. The prototype reactor will have an output range of 0.3 to 0.5 kW, with plans to scale up the project in a second phase.

   The Canadian Gas Association has set a target of 5% RNG-blended natural gas in the pipeline distribution system by 2025 and 10% by 2030 across Canada. Nationally, the increased RNG content would result in 14 megatonnes (MT) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions per year by 2030, equivalent to removing 3 million passenger cars from the road. The Régie de l’energie in Quebec has proposed a target of 1% RNG to be distributed by 2020 and 5% by 2025.