(422a) Intensifying Natural Gas Upgrading: Integrated Reactor Concepts for Syngas Production

Veser, G., University of Pittsburgh
The recent surge in economically accessible natural gas reserves has revived interest in the development of novel, less capital intensive, more resource efficient, and cleaner processes for natural gas conversion via upgrading to valuable chemical feedstocks. This development, often summarized under the label “Process Intensification” (PI), is based on a conceptual approach to process engineering that aims to radically reduce the physical, energetic, and/or environmental footprint of existing processes without altering the basic underlying process chemistry.

This presentation will discuss examples of process intensification principles applied to natural gas conversion, drawing on work from our own laboratory and others. A particular focus will be on the use of multifunctional reactor concepts, ranging from heat-integrated reactors to chemical looping. I will argue that multi­functionality is at the heart of PI, marking a significant departure from the “unit operations” approach that has defined chemical engineering since its inception in the early 20th century. Systematic application of PI can drastically increase efficiency, process safety, and reduce the overall footprint of next-generation natural gas conversion processes.