Research Breakthrough in Methane to Methanol – Holy Grail?

Researchers at Tufts University say they have found a better, cheaper way to convert methane (i.e. natural gas) directly into methanol. “The direct oxidation of methane—found in natural gas—into methanol at low temperatures has long been a holy grail,” so says the Tufts announcement. A group of chemical engineers say they have found a way to do it. What’s the big deal about methanol? Methanol plants convert natural gas into methanol, used as a chemical feedstock (or raw material) to create other things, like gasoline, antifreeze, plastic bottles–even LED and LCD screens. In August 2016 MDN was the first to share the news that US Methanol is building at least two, rumored up to five, methanol plants in West Virginia (see Rumor: US Methanol Building 5 Methanol Plants in WV). Methanol has the potential to be a big market in the Marcellus/Utica region–and a big source of demand for our plentiful gas. If Tufts has figured out a better way to convert natgas into methanol, we’re all ears…

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