Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Turning raw natural gas into upgraded liquid alcohol fuel

Date:
March 13, 2014
Source:
Brigham Young University
Summary:
Chemists have discovered of a new way to turn raw natural gas into upgraded liquid alcohol fuel. The process uses ordinary 'main group' metals like thallium and lead to trigger the conversion of natural gas to liquid alcohol. The process occurs at far lower temperatures than current industry practices. This could help reduce dependence on petroleum.

BYU professor Daniel Ess, whose discovery comes at a time when natural gas production is booming in America -- a trend that is expected to continue for the next 30 years.
Credit: Image courtesy of Brigham Young University

America's current energy boom may take a new direction thanks to the discovery of a new way to turn raw natural gas into upgraded liquid alcohol fuel.

In the March 14 issue of Science magazine, chemists from Brigham Young University and The Scripps Research Institute detail a process that could reduce dependence on petroleum.

The most unexpected breakthrough in the paper was that ordinary "main group" metals like thallium and lead can trigger the conversion of natural gas to liquid alcohol. The research teams saw in experiments that natural gas to alcohol conversion occurs at 180 degrees Celsius -- just a fraction of the heat needed with traditional "transition metal" catalysts (1400-1600 degrees Celsius). The BYU team was crucial in using theory to understand how and why this process works at low temperatures and under mild conditions.

"This is a highly novel piece of work that opens the way to upgrading of natural gas to useful chemicals with simple materials and moderate conditions," said Robert Crabtree, a chemistry professor at Yale who is familiar with the new study.

The discovery comes at a time when natural gas production is booming in America -- a trend that is expected to continue for the next 30 years. The new process actually cuts out one step of the process for fuel production. Ordinarily the three main parts of raw natural gas -- methane, ethane and propane -- are separated before they are turned into fuels or other useful chemicals.

"Hardly anybody actually tries to do reactions on a genuine mixture that you would get from natural gas," said Daniel Ess, a BYU chemistry professor and one of the study authors. "Turns out we can just directly use the mixture of what comes out of natural gas and convert all three of them together."

The potential benefits aren't limited to the production of fuel, Ess said. Many chemicals derived from natural gas, such as methanol, are also important in manufacturing.

"Whether you use methanol to burn as a fuel or as a chemical commodity for products, this process cuts down energy usage," Ess said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brigham Young University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. B. G. Hashiguchi, M. M. Konnick, S. M. Bischof, S. J. Gustafson, D. Devarajan, N. Gunsalus, D. H. Ess, R. A. Periana. Main-Group Compounds Selectively Oxidize Mixtures of Methane, Ethane, and Propane to Alcohol Esters. Science, 2014; 343 (6176): 1232 DOI: 10.1126/science.1249357

Cite This Page:

Brigham Young University. "Turning raw natural gas into upgraded liquid alcohol fuel." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140313142604.htm>.
Brigham Young University. (2014, March 13). Turning raw natural gas into upgraded liquid alcohol fuel. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140313142604.htm
Brigham Young University. "Turning raw natural gas into upgraded liquid alcohol fuel." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140313142604.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
7 Ways to Use Toothpaste: Howdini Hacks

7 Ways to Use Toothpaste: Howdini Hacks

Howdini (July 30, 2014) Fresh breath and clean teeth are great, but have you ever thought, "my toothpaste could be doing more". Well, it can! Lots of things! Howdini has 7 new uses for this household staple. Video provided by Howdini
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

AP (July 30, 2014) Smartphone powered paper airplane that was popular on crowdfunding website KickStarter makes its debut at Wisconsin airshow (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


New, Lower Cost Method to Create More Usable Fuels

Mar. 13, 2014 Scientists have devised a new, more efficient method with the potential to convert the major components found in natural gas into useable fuels and chemicals—opening the door to cheaper, more ... read more
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins