Researchers of North Carolina State University and few other scientists have discovered a new mechanism to convert natural gas into energy at a faster pace.This new process could not only do the conversion 70 times faster than the existing methods but also can seize the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.
The chemical researchers claim that this new mechanism could make the generation of power from natural gas more pure and efficacious.Usually,natural gas is a hydrocarbon gas mixture consisting of methane and it also includes different amounts of hydrocarbons,carbon dioxide,nitrogen and hydrogen sulfide.
Natural gas is a group of short carbon chain molecules which when combined with oxygen and an ignition source,breaks the carbon bonds full of energy,releasing large amounts of energy as heat and light.
The chemical researchers have found a process called chemical looping,in which an “oxygen carrier”-a solid,oxygen-laden material,is made to intercourse with natural gas.This makes the oxygen atoms present in the oxygen carrier to interact with natural gas which causes combustion and produces energy.
Earlier,the oxygen carriers were made from a inter-mixture of passive ceramic material and metal oxides. But now,a new type of oxygen carrier is developed that include “mixed ionic-electronic conductor,” which reciprocates oxygen atoms into natural gas effectively.This makes the chemical looping combustion process much faster.
The mixed conductor is grasped in a nano-scale matrix with an iron oxide or rust.The rust will act as a source of oxygen for the mixed conductor and the process of combustion produces water vapor and CO2.By making water vapor to condense,the team of researchers are able to create a stream of concentrated CO2.
Since,the new oxygen carrier carries out combustion of natural gas in a faster manner than the chemical looping technologies,the chemical looping reactors are made more reachable economically which will allow the users to generate same amounts of energy with a much small system.
“Improving this process hopefully moves us closer to commercial applications that use chemical looping, which would help us limit greenhouse gas emissions,”says Fanxing Li, co-author of a paper on the research and an assistant professor of chemical and bio-molecular engineering at North Carolina State University.
Till date,the energy source from natural gas is often used for heating,cooking and for generating electricity.It is also used as fuel for vehicles and as chemical feedstock.If this new process comes into use widely,the energy generation from natural gas will increase rapidly which may allow to fulfill the demand for energy that is increasing day-by-day.