Daily Management Review

Technology to Convert Natural Gas into Methanol Being Jointly Researched by EERC and FuelCell Energy


08/28/2015




Technology to Convert Natural Gas into Methanol Being Jointly Researched by EERC and FuelCell Energy
EERC, the Energy & Environmental Research Center of the University of North Dakota has teamed up with FuelCell Energy, Inc to develop a durable, low-cost, and high-performance electrochemical cell to convert natural gas and other methane-rich gas into methanol, a major chemical commodity with worldwide applications in the production of liquid fuels, solvents, resins, and polymers.

FuelCell Energy, Inc is an integrated stationary fuel cell manufacturer located in Danbury, Connecticut.
Fund from the North Dakota Department of Commerce's Research ND Program is the source of money for the EERC's portion of the project.

“This is a fine example of leveraging private sector dollars with state research funds on a technology that could greatly impact North Dakota's economy. This project involves new technologies that produce value-added products from both fossil and renewable methane," said EERC Director Tom Erickson.

The team of researchers and engineers of FuelCell Energy is also wwell recognized and comprises of scientists and engineers from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the University of Connecticut, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

With the aim to develop entirely new ways to generate, store and use energy, the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency had granted the project worth $3,500,000.

Using advanced metal catalysts, the project aims to develop an electrochemical cell that would directly convert methane to methanol and other liquid fuels.

“The electrochemical gas-to-liquid technology concept could lead to a modular, efficient, and cost-effective solution deployed in both large-scale industrial plants and in situations where natural gas is available in smaller quantities,” said Ted Aulich, Project Manager and EERC Senior Research Manager.

The EERC would be involved with the development and improvement of the performance and economics of an 'anode catalyst,' a critical component of the electrochemical gas-to-liquid technology, said Aulich.

Liquid hydrocarbons, such as methanol, have up to ten times the value of natural gas on an energy basis and thus converting the natural gas in to a liquid significantly increases the cost-competitiveness of natural gas. For industries dealing with natural gas, it would be an added value addition is they were able to acquire the ability to monetize natural gas in smaller-scale plants.

Based on its utility as an energy carrier that can be relatively easily converted to gasoline- and/or diesel-compatible transportation fuels, hydrogen, and industrial chemicals, it has been concluded that methanol is an ideal "energy currency" and could be cost effective in the future if the appropriate technology to convert natural gas into methanol was developed.

“This technology has multiple applications. Another example is that it can be utilized to turn methane-rich landfill gas, or possibly even flare gas, into methanol for various chemical or energy applications," said Chris Zygarlicke, EERC Assistant Director. "

(Source:www.streetinsider.com) 






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