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Efficient Processes for the Conversion of Methane to Syngas

Date Posted
U.S. Patent Pending

Opportunity

Research is active on a method to convert methane into synthesis gas using a mixture of metal oxides. The resulting syngas could be used to manufacture more valuable chemicals. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Overview

Natural gas (NG), which is composed primarily of methane, is one of the most abundant, low-cost carbon-containing feedstocks available. Substantial amounts of NG are flared in refineries, chemical plants, oil wells and landfills, which releases both carbon dioxide and unburned methane into the atmosphere. Therefore, it is important to find a process to exploit NG reserves that is both clean and efficient, such as the conversion of methane to syngas.

The methane conversion process developed by NETL uses a mixture of different metal oxides. This metal oxide mixture can function as an oxygen carrier that can react with methane for combustion when fully oxidized. However, when the metal oxide is partially oxidized, it reacts with methane to produce syngas. The ratios of metal oxides used in the NETL process has been optimized for this syngas conversion.

Syngas production accounts for a large part of the total investment cost in a large-scale industrial plant, so development of more efficient processes for the conversion of methane to syngas will benefit plant operators and designers with significant cost savings.

Significance

More energy-efficient than current methane-to-syngas conversion processes like steam methane reforming

Yields syngas with a hydrogen/carbon monoxide ratio of 2:1, which is useful for chemical production

Enables continuous production of syngas when oxygen and methane our fed simultaneously

Metal oxides used are more environmentally safe than previously used materials

Applications
  • Syngas Production
  • Production of valuable chemicals
  • Hydrogen Production

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