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Adding detergents to lake & rivers can trap methane bubbles in foams. These foams can then be processed to flare or recover the methane.




Stolaroff et al. (2012) propose adding surfactants to lakes to capture methane bubbles in foams.  Non-biodegradable foaming agents may be suitable, e.g. branched-chain isomers of sodium dodecylbenzene sulphonate.  Biodegradability of these agents is well studied.  Foam mechanics have been previously studied, partly due to industrial applications, such as brewing.   Accompanying artificial aeration may be used to control anoxia and inhibit methanogenesis (where commercial recovery is not sought).  However, added air can dilute the methane stream, complicating treatment.  Alternatively, impermeable covers, e.g. polymer sheeting, could be used to trap methane for treatment or use.

Category of the action


What actions do you propose?

Who will take these actions?

Where will these actions be taken?

What are other key benefits?

A possibility of commercial extraction exists.

What are the proposal’s costs?

The initial costs of experimentation would be minimal.  A test installation could be deployed for a few thousand dollars, subject to limitations on surveying long-term ecosystem disruption.  More difficult to estimate is the effort needed to identify suitable waterbodies - i.e. those characterised by high fluxes per unit area, low water throughput and limited ecological value.

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