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This ceramic membrane converts natural gas to liquid hydrocarbons

By Scott Jenkins |

Converting natural gas to liquid hydrocarbons can theoretically be accomplished at high temperatures with the help of zeolite catalysts, but the reaction is hindered by two major factors. The conversion to products is thermodynamically limited, and coke formation on the zeolite surface rapidly decreases catalyst activity. Now, technology involving a ceramic-membrane reactor offers a pathway around these obstacles. Along with scientists from the University of Oslo and the Institute of Chemical Technology in Valencia, Spain, engineered ceramics maker CoorsTek Inc. (Golden, Colo.; www.coorstek.com) has developed a reactor that integrates an ion-conducting membrane to shift the thermodynamic equilibrium of the reaction and drive the process toward increased product formation without generating CO2. “The membrane is a proton-conducting ceramic material with electrodes similar to a solid-oxide fuel cell,” explains Per Vestre, managing director of CoorsTek Membrane Sciences. “It provides a means of removing hydrogen from the reaction and thus shifting the thermodynamic equilibrium toward formation of aromatic rings as reaction products.” The CoorsTek reactor is also designed to allow oxygen to be injected across the membrane surface…
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