Electrodeposition of Sulfide Catalysts for Methane Up-conversion

Period of Performance: 02/21/2017 - 11/20/2017


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Faraday Technology, Inc.
315 Huls Drive Array
Englewood, OH 45315
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


Recent technological developments in subterranean exploration and extraction in shale formations have resulted in a dramatic increase in light hydrocarbon resources in the Nation, which has represented a boon both for domestic energy production and for export abroad. While the economic and geopolitical advantages of shale gas as an energy source are obvious, given the enormous supply of available shale gas significant further advantages could be realized if it could be converted into feedstock platform chemicals typically derived from petroleum, such as ethylene. The chemical pathways by which methane can be coupled into ethylene are generally classified into oxidative and non-oxidative, differing primarily by whether a chemical oxidant is used. The first report of a method for direct catalytic oxidative conversion of methane to ethylene was in 1981, after which energetic research in the field followed, most of which involved metal oxide or metal sulfide catalysts. Sulfide catalysts are well established in the hydrocarbon processing sphere, with a long history of use for hydrodesulfurization (HDS), hydrodenitrogenation, and hydrogenation reactions. Favorable results for methane oxidative coupling have been reported in particular for Pd and Ru sulfides. In the proposed Phase I program, the potential for economical and scalable pulsed electrodeposition of Pd and Ru sulfide methane oxidative coupling catalysts will be investigated. As well, pulsed electrocatalysis will be applied during the testing of these catalysts, to determine the potential for such techniques to provide enhanced selectivity for the desired ethylene product and/or to enable operation at temperatures and pressures approaching ambient. Testing will be performed in state-of-the-art flow electroreactors custom-designed for the application. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Development of techniques to fabricate and utilize efficient, selective metal sulfide electrocatalysts for methane oxidative coupling would connect the substantial shale gas resources of the Nation to the sizeable downstream chemicals market. In addition to the benefits to the shale gas sector, the technology would benefit the Nation more broadly as it would enable shale gas to supplant some fraction of petroleum as a primary feedstock for the chemicals industry. Such developments would have positive effects on, e.g., domestic employment and the energy and economic independence of the Nation from potentially unreliable or antagonistic foreign entities.