Millisecond Contact Time Reactors for Oxidative Coupling of Methane

Period of Performance: 01/01/2003 - 12/31/2003


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Mesoscopic Devices, LLC
510 Compton Street, Suite 106
Broomfield, CO 80020
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


70655B02-II Large amounts of natural gas are located in fields that are too far from markets to be economically viable. If the natural gas from these fields could be converted to a liquid, it could be transported to markets using existing oil pipelines or ships. This project will demonstrate a compact device for converting methane into ethane, a critical first step in the gas-to-liquids process. This new approach, using chemical reactors capable of very fast heating and cooling rates, will improve the efficiency of the gas-to-liquids process and reduce the cost of the conversion reactors. Phase I created a chemical and kinetic model of the methane-to-ethane conversion reactor, and showed that the new approach increases ethane yield. Experiments of oxidative methane coupling also demonstrated increased ethane yield and confirmed theoretical predictions. Practical methods for building the reactor microchannel structure were developed and demonstrated. In Phase II, the reactor technology will be optimized for use with better catalysts under more favorable conditions. A simple catalyst screening task will identify those catalysts that work best in the new reactor approach. Modeling and design efforts will be conducted in parallel with the optimization effort to support the building of an integrated bench-scale demonstrator. A heat exchanger design, which makes the improved ethane yield possible, will be optimized for a commercially viable assembly process. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits as described by awardee: A reactor capable of converting natural gas to chemicals that are liquid at room temperature should enable remote gas wells to economically bring their resource to market. The reactor also would have applications in refineries and chemical process plants, where it would reduce the cost and size of chemical reactors.