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Comment Processing & Handling

Membrane reactor may reduce wastage of natural gas

By Gerald Parkinson |

A small-scale ceramic membrane reactor to convert natural gas to transportable liquids in a single step is being developed by Ceramatec, Inc. (Salt Lake City, Utah; www.ceramatec.com) under a $1.7-million grant from the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA, Washington, D.C.; www.doe.gov). The goal is to monetize the natural gas associated with oil production at remote locations. This gas — about 5-quadrillion Btu/yr worldwide — is currently flared or pumped back into the ground, says Elango Elangovan, project manager. The company will develop a catalyst-membrane reactor to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of the process. Natural gas will be fed into the reactor and will be converted to a higher-hydrocarbon liquid by a catalyst that is coated on one side of the membrane. Co-produced hydrogen will permeate the membrane and will be recovered. The liquid could be transported and used for the production of chemicals and fuels, says Elangovan. He declines to give details on the catalyst, except to say that it is a proprietary metal catalyst. Ceramatec’s main focus is on improving the conversion efficiency, which so far has been low in laboratory tests, he says. The company…
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