Scientists at Livermore National Laboratory have combined biology and 3D printing to create the first reactor that produces methanol from methane at home - at normal temperature and pressure.
To achieve this, the researchers removed the enzymes from methanotrophs (bacteria that feed on methane) and mixed them with 3D-printed polymers inside the reactor.
According to the head of the project Sarah Baker, enzymes retain up to 100% activity in a mixture with polymers, and the use of 3D technologies in this process expands the range of their use.
Research by American chemists will help find a use for the huge amount of methane, which is part of natural gas, which either escapes into the atmosphere or is burned, exacerbating the problem of global warming. Currently existing methane processing technologies are still ineffective.
Scientists in the process have found that 3D-printed polymers can be reused for many cycles, and in higher concentrations than current technologies.