About this Research Topic
The day will come when transportation can be exclusively based on renewable fuels or powered by electric batteries at an affordable cost and reasonable autonomy. In the meantime, what is true is that the economic growth of developed countries is based on fossil resources, and particularly, on the consumption of liquid hydrocarbons, mainly obtained by crude oil refining. The situation will hardly change in the next decades, with emerging economies, developing countries and highly populated world areas adhering to the economic development by means of massive fossil resources’ consumption.
In this scenario, natural gas and unconventional methane-rich sources are destined to play a key role in supporting the future needs and demand for more liquid hydrocarbons of our economies. The significant advances in the exploitation of new sources for obtaining liquid hydrocarbons, namely shale gas, combined with new powerful technologies for efficiently extracting these resources (e.g. hydraulic fracture or “fracking”) have resulted in a significant increase in the production of unconventional natural gas. This, together with new discoveries of natural gas pockets in isolated areas, far from distribution grids or processing plants, has boosted the search for economically and technically viable routes for valorizing these methane-rich resources. On top of this, process intensification must be sought and alternatives to flaring must be proposed for exploiting methane-rich streams that are usually obtained in the exploitation of remote oil wells such as ‘offshore’ oil platforms at open sea.
Furthermore, natural gas exploitation poses important benefits for the environment. By replacing coal in stationary power generation, a significant reduction in Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions has been accomplished in massive GHG emitters such as the USA in the last decade. Besides, natural gas can be one of the main actors involved in the transition from a fossil fuel-based economy to a society solely depending on renewable resources for its development. This will grant the necessary supply of secure, clean and efficient energy with the development of different conversion technologies and means for efficiently supplying power to the energy mix of both developed and emerging economies.
Therefore, the main goal of this Research Topic is to cover all sorts of technologies, routes and methods for valorizing natural gas and methane-rich sources into liquid hydrocarbons, including different Gas-to-Liquid (GtL) technologies that can result in the valorization, upgrading and exploitation of these unconventional natural gas streams which otherwise would have to be flared. Contributions may deal with different alternatives for fulfilling such goals, namely syngas production, oxidative methane coupling, methane-to-aromatics, methane-to-X (MTX) including direct routes for methane conversion to liquid hydrocarbons and chemicals, steam or dry (CO2) reforming of methane, and process intensification for on-site processing of methane into liquid hydrocarbons and chemicals in remote or isolated gas pockets (e.g. novel concept reactors for methane conversion intensification).
Original articles reporting on complete research works falling within the Research Topic's aims and scope are welcome, in which hypotheses are set up and tested, and original results are presented and discussed within the framework of the current knowledge. Also review papers providing a thorough overview of recent developments in specific areas covered by the scope of this collection. Reviews must be critical and include an extensive analysis of the state of the art.
Keywords: Methane, Natural Gas, Reforming, Shale Gas, Syngas
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