A General Framework for the Evaluation of Direct Nonoxidative Methane Conversion Strategies

Kefeng Huang, James B. Miller, George W. Huber, James A. Dumesic, Christos T. Maravelias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this paper, we study single-step natural gas conversion technologies that directly convert methane to olefins and higher hydrocarbons. Despite the relative simplicity of these technologies, the development of processes based on these approaches remains challenging. Accordingly, we utilize process synthesis and modeling to assess the economic feasibility of direct nonoxidative methane conversion strategies. We develop a flexible approach that allows for the systematic evaluation of various technology alternatives and for the identification of the key technology gaps that must be overcome. The results of our analyses demonstrate that an economically feasible direct methane conversion process is contingent upon fundamental research advances in the area of catalytic conversion to increase methane conversion to hydrocarbon products (e.g., coke formation less than 20% and a minimum conversion to products of 25%). Upon this development, further efforts can be devoted to improve ethylene selectivity as well as reduce catalyst cost and overall capital costs. Natural gas is a versatile and relatively clean chemical feedstock. The development of natural gas conversion technologies has recently received significant attention due to the increase of natural gas supply in the United States and low natural gas prices relative to crude oil. The conversion of natural gas into chemicals presents a promising means of utilizing an abundant resource while achieving energy security and mitigating pollutant emissions. Yet the direct conversion of methane to olefins is still at the basic research level, and it is unclear which of, and to what extent, these technologies must be improved to develop a commercial process. Toward this goal, we develop a simple yet flexible framework that allows for the systematic evaluation of various process alternatives and the identification of the key technology gaps. Natural gas is a versatile chemical feedstock. While the direct conversion of methane to olefins and higher hydrocarbons has received significant attention, there exist a number of open questions regarding the development of cost-effective methane-to-chemicals integrated processes. To address some of these questions, we develop a general systems-level framework for the systematic evaluation of various strategies and the identification of key technology gaps and economic drivers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-365
Number of pages17
JournalJoule
Volume2
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 21 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Energy(all)

Keywords

  • aromatics
  • hydrogen
  • natural gas
  • natural gas to chemicals
  • olefins
  • process synthesis and analysis
  • process systems engineering
  • techno-economic analysis

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A General Framework for the Evaluation of Direct Nonoxidative Methane Conversion Strategies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this