ENERGY NEWS

New Method Could Cheaply Convert Natural Gas to Chemicals

A ceramic membrane could unlock the potential of methane-conversion catalysts and help make use of natural gas that currently goes to waste.

By Kevin Bullis on March 1, 2013

High-performance ceramic membranes from the R&D company Ceramatec could lead to a cheaper way to convert natural gas into benzene, a liquid that can be used to make a wide variety of chemicals and serve as a component of gasoline.

If the approach works, it would open up large new markets for natural gas. It could also reduce the practice of flaring natural gas, which wastes about 140 billion cubic meters of gas each year worldwide, or the equivalent of about 20 percent of the annual demand in the United States. Oil wells in remote areas often use flaring because transporting the natural gas to market would be too expensive. The technology could work efficiently at relatively small scales, and be deployed at wells to produce liquids that are cheaper to transport than gas.

Existing gas-to-liquids conversion technology can require huge $15 billion to $20 billion plants (see “Turning Gas Flares into Fuel”). Such plants require expensive equipment that’s used to produce pure oxygen, which is reacted with methane, the chief component of natural gas.

Read more: A Possible Route to Convert Natural Gas to Valuable Liquids | MIT Technology Review.

Home           Top of page