Bringing science and development together through original news and analysis

  • 'Green dams' could cut greenhouse gas emissions

A method to curb greenhouse gas emissions from large hydroelectric dams has been developed by scientists in Brazil.

The team, from the country's National Space Research Institute (INPE), looked at ways of preventing methane in dam reservoirs from entering the atmosphere.

Methane is produced by bacteria breaking down organic matter in oxygen-poor conditions at the bottom of reservoirs. Hydroelectric turbines are fed this methane-rich water from intake pipes deep in the dam, and the methane is released into the atmosphere.

To prevent methane-rich water entering the turbines, the INPE team's solution is to channel methane-free surface water to the intake pipes.

Meanwhile, deep water is pumped to a rotor at the surface. This creates droplets to liberate the dissolved gas, which is then piped to a plant and burnt to produce electricity, supplementing energy produced by the turbines.

The researchers estimate that their technique ― if applied worldwide ― could prevent more emissions being released than what the United Kingdom creates in a year.

INPE hopes to demonstrate the process later this year with the prototype equipment.

Link to article on BBC Online

Republish
We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.