Coking-resistant catalyst fuels shale gas conversion method
5 Jan 2018
Researchers at University College London (UCL) and Tufts University have developed an alloy catalyst designed to convert methane in shale gas into hydrocarbon fuels without coking.
Typically, the process used to make hydrocarbon fuels from shale gas causes ‘coking’, which coats the metal with a carbon layer rendering it ineffective by blocking reactions from happening at the surface.
However, the new alloy catalyst is resistant to coking, and is therefore designed to retain its activity and requires less energy to break the bonds than other materials.
According to the researchers, current methane reforming processes are highly energy intensive, requiring temperatures of about 900°C. The platinum and copper catalysts designed by the UCL and Tufts team could lower this to 400°C.
To investigate the performance of the alloy, a combination of surface science and catalysis experiments techniques were used. These showed that the platinum breaks the carbon-hydrogen bonds, and the copper helps couple hydrocarbon molecules of different sizes, paving the way towards conversion to fuels, the researchers said.
Study co-lead author Maria Flytzani-Stephanopoulos said: “While model catalysts in surface science experiments are essential to follow the structure and reactivity at the atomic scale, it is exciting to extend this knowledge to realistic nanoparticle catalysts of similar compositions and test them under practical conditions, aimed at developing the catalyst for the next step – industrial application.”
A full account of the research has been published in the journal Nature Chemistry.
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