Natural gas processing typically relies on high-temperature techniques that incur high operating costs. “We propose an integrated process consisting of gas hydrates and membranes, to make the overall process of purifying natural gas potentially more economical without high-temperature driven processes,” said co-author Moises Carreon, an expert in membrane separating technologies.
“In this integrated system, we first remove all of the nasty chemicals present in natural gas using gas hydrates to produce a purer mixture,” Cameron said. He then explained how the purer mixture of gases is easier to separate using membrane technology.
Hydrate formation is not only energy-efficient but also environmentally friendly. Water is the only additional material required for gas hydrate formation, and it effectively sequesters hazardous gases like hydrogen sulfide into the solid hydrate form, which prevents its release into the environment. There are some other contaminants that need to be removed separately, but this newly proposed system reduces environmental impact from the current industrial processes.
The integrated hydrate-membrane system can also serve as a model for other molecular gas separations, such as hydrogen gas purification.
The engineers are now focused on proving their theoretical concept. “We’re trying to demonstrate that this integrated system can effectively separate natural gas impurities in laboratory experiments,” said Carreon. Part of that work will involve optimization to ensure that the hydrate structures form easily and rapidly, and can maintain their stability.
The article was originally published here