Green Plains Inc., Tallgrass and Osaka Gas USA said Dec. 21 they would commence a joint feasibility study to evaluate the production of up to 200,000 tons/ year of synthetic methane in the Midwest U.S.

Osaka Gas USA is a subsidiary of Japan’s Osaka Gas.

The project aims to produce synthetic methane from low-carbon hydrogen and biogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) captured from ethanol biorefineries owned and operated by Green Plains.

The study is scheduled to be completed in mid-2023. It will focus on the production of low-carbon hydrogen that incorporates the capture and permanent sequestration of at least 95% of fossil-based CO2, coupled with the methanation of low-carbon hydrogen with biogenic CO2 from fermentation.

“This is an important step in our decarbonization efforts across our platform, further demonstrating the crucial role our assets can play in the future of clean energy production using proven technologies,” said Todd Becker, Green Plains president and CEO. “Our conversion of biogenic CO2 to low-carbon fuels can add significant value for our stakeholders while helping to meet ambitious climate goals around the planet. This innovative collaboration with Osaka Gas USA and Tallgrass builds on our vision of producing clean energy while reducing carbon emissions for our partners in Japan by utilizing our asset base in place today.”

Concurrent with the joint study, Osaka Gas USA will examine strategies to liquefy synthetic methane at Freeport LNG and transport it to Japan, where it would be used for city gas applications such as industrial burners, home heating and cooking.

Synthetic natural gas can be transported and distributed using existing natural gas infrastructure. The project is in line with the Japanese government's goal to replace 90% of Japan’s city gas volumes with e-methane by 2050.

“Osaka Gas USA is excited to participate in this study with Tallgrass and Green Plains as this marks another promising methanation project in the United States, which will greatly accelerate our goal to become carbon neutral by 2050,” said Sunao Okamoto, Osaka Gas USA president and CEO. “This valuable opportunity will enable us to foster long-lasting relationships with strategic partners who share similar decarbonization commitments while continuing to gain momentum in expanding our existing carbon-neutral business in the U.S.”

“Japan’s decarbonization objectives are important to progressing the global fight against climate change” said Alison Nelson, Tallgrass vice president business development. “We are proud to be joining Osaka Gas USA and Green Plains in this endeavor and to further establish the U.S. as a global leader in clean energy production.”