New Models and Processes Simplify Analysis and Conversion of Natural Gas

Achievement date: 

Researchers developed several new models and processes for simplifying the analysis and extraction of liquid hydrocarbons from natural gas at the Center for Innovative and Strategic Transformation of Alkane Resources (CISTAR), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) based at Purdue University.


The new models and processes advance a key goal of CISTAR, which is to generate simple and efficient process configurations at varying design scales from small plants at the wellhead to regional gas plants, as the nation seeks to make better use of its vast stores of natural gas.


Proven natural gas reserves continue to grow rapidly in the United States, rising by nearly a third in 2021 alone, through technologies including horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking. CISTAR’s researchers aim to enable more efficient and economical conversion of natural gas to chemical feedstocks and transportation fuels.

The advances in 2021 included turboquenching, or rapid cooling with water, to improve the efficiency of converting natural gas to liquids; the use of co-produced hydrogen to reduce the external electricity needed in the conversion; as well as a new model for computing fluid dynamics in assessing the performance of new electrically heated alkane dehydrogenation reactors, a model for assessing membrane power, and a reduced-order kinetic model for quick and reliable optimization and design of oligomerization reactors.