Catalytic reaction also reduces pollution
A Washington State University research team has improved an important catalytic reaction commonly used in the oil and gas industries. The innovation could lead to dramatic energy savings and reduced pollution.
They report on their work in the German journal Angewandte Chemie, which has designated the paper of particular interest and importance. The research is led by Jean-Sabin McEwen, assistant professor, and Su Ha, associate professor, of the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering at WSU.
Efficiently converting methane
Methane gas is a byproduct in much of the oil and gas industry, where it may build up during operations and cause a safety concern.
Methane also is a primary ingredient in natural gas used to heat homes, and it can be converted into many useful products including electricity. But breaking the strong bond between its carbon and hydrogen takes a tremendous amount of energy.
"It's a very happy molecule," said McEwen. "It does not want to break apart."
To convert methane, the oil and gas industry most often uses a nickel-based catalyst. But it is often less expensive to simply burn the methane in giant flares on site; however, this adds greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, contributing to global warming, and wastes energy. In the U.S., for example, the amount of methane burned annually is as much as 25 percent of the country's natural gas consumption.
"Right now, we just waste all those gases," said Ha. "If we can efficiently and effectively convert methane from shale or gas fields to electric power or useful products, that would be very positive."
Nickel carbide an effective catalyst
The researchers determined that they can dramatically reduce the energy needed to break the bond between carbon and hydrogen by adding a tiny bit of carbon within the nickel-based catalyst. This creates nickel carbide, which generates a positive electrical field. This novel catalyst weakens the methane molecule's hydrogen-carbon bond, allowing it to break at much lower temperatures.
The researchers found that while too much carbon in the catalyst kills the reaction, a very low concentration actually enhances it. They have built a numerical model of the reaction and are working to show the work experimentally.
"It's exciting to be conducting research in which experimentalists and computational researchers are working side by side to advance the field," said Ha. "This needs to be done more often in the sciences for the development of these breakthrough technologies."
Jean-Sabin McEwen | EurekAlert!
Neutrons pave the way to accelerated production of lithium-ion cells
20.03.2018 | Technische Universität München
Monocrystalline silicon thin film for cost-cutting solar cells with 10-times faster growth rate fabricated
16.03.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology
Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.
The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...
An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.
The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...
In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.
Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...
Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.
They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...
A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...
23.03.2018 | Event News
19.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Event News
23.03.2018 | Life Sciences
23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences
23.03.2018 | Process Engineering