Exergy Return on Exergy Investment and CO2Intensity of the Underground Biomethanation Process

Rouhi Farajzadeh*, Bartholomeus Petrus Lomans, Hadi Hajibeygi, Johannes Bruining

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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This paper presents an assessment of the life-cycle exergetic efficiency and CO2 footprint of the underground biomethanation process. The subsurface formation, hosting microorganisms required for the reaction, is utilized to convert CO2 and green (produced from renewable energy) hydrogen to the so-called "green"or synthetic methane. The net exergy gain and CO2 intensity of the biomethanation process are compared to the alternative options of (1) green H2 storage (no energy upgrading process to CH4) and (2) fossil-based CH4 with carbon capture and storage (CCS), i.e., blue CH4. It is found that with the current state of the technology and within the assumptions of this study, the exergy return on the exergy invested for underground biomethanation does not outperform the direct storage and utilization of green H2. The maximum exergetic efficiency of the biomethanation process is calculated to be 15-33% for electricity and 36-47% for heating, while the overall exergetic efficiency of the direct use of H2 for electricity is estimated to be between 20 and 61%. Moreover, the energy produced from the underground biomethanation process has the largest CO2 intensity among the studied options. Depending on the technology used in the CCS and hydrogen production stages, the CO2 intensity of the electricity generated from synthetic CH4 can be as large as 142 g CO2/MJe, which is at least 56-73% larger than those of the two other studied cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10318-10326
Number of pages9
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number31
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • biomethanation
  • carbon dioxide
  • climate change
  • energy storage
  • hydrogen
  • subsurface reactor
  • synthetic methane


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