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 September 21, 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 September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

What This MIT Sensor Could Mean For The Future Of Robotics

What This MIT Sensor Could Mean For The Future Of Robotics

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) MIT researchers developed a light-based sensor that gives robots 100 times the sensitivity of a human finger, allowing for "unprecedented dexterity." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The MIT BioSuit could be an alternative to big, bulky traditional spacesuits, but the concept needs some work. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Virtual Reality Headsets Unveiled at Tokyo Game Show

Virtual Reality Headsets Unveiled at Tokyo Game Show

AFP (Sep. 18, 2014) Several companies unveiled virtual reality headsets at the Tokyo Game Show, Asia's largest digital entertainment exhibition. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
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