OK so I don’t really have a post to go with the title. I just googled methane fuel cells. As usual, some engineers promise that they have solved the problem.
The claim is that, with a new catalyst, methane (and oxygen of course) can be used to generate electricity at the temperature of an auto engine (500 c). They do not promise that the fuel cell is stable and especially don’t promise that it is stable if the fuel isn’t pure methane but rather contains, to use the technical term, smelly stuff.
The reason I am interested is that lots of shit and garbage and stuff produces methane which is a potent greenhouse gas. If fuel cells converted it to C02 and also paid for themselves by producing electricity, that would be wonderful. The methane from landfills and swine feces lagoons now escapes into the atmosphere. It isn’t worth collecting and purifying it (do you want to buy it ? How much would it cost to make it smell like pure methane (that is not at all)) ? A practical methane fuel cell would be very useful.
I have no understanding of the chemistry and engineering and even less of the economics. But I think that this is an important technology.
To be really impractical, I imagine dealing with the methane in frozen tundra in a way that it is C02 before it gets in the atmosphere.