New material could make gases more transportable

Nov 20, 2008

Chemists at the University of Liverpool have developed a way of converting methane gas into a powder form in order to make it more transportable.

Scientists have developed a material made out of a mixture of silica and water which can soak up large quantities of methane molecules. The material looks and acts like a fine white powder which, if developed for industrial use, might be easily transported or used as a vehicle fuel.

Methane is the principal component of natural gas and can be burnt in oxygen to produce carbon dioxide and water. The abundance of the gas and its relatively clean burning process makes it a good source of fuel, but due to its gaseous state at room temperature, methane is difficult to transport from its source.

Professor Andy Cooper, Director of the Centre for Materials Discovery at the University's Department of Chemistry, explains: "Many natural gas reserves are geographically remote and can only be extracted via pipelines, so there is a need to look for other ways to transport the gas. It has been suggested that methane gas hydrate could be used as a way of containing methane gas for transportation. The disadvantage of methane gas hydrate for industry use is that it is formed at a very slow rate when methane reacts with water under pressure.

"To counteract these difficulties we used a method to break water up into tiny droplets to increase the surface area in contact with the gas. We did this by mixing water with a special form of silica – a similar material to sand – which stops the water droplets from coalescing. This 'dry water' powder soaks up large quantities of methane quite rapidly at around water's normal freezing point."

The team also found that 'dry water' could be more economical than other potential products because it is made from cheap raw materials. The material may also have industrial applications if methane could be stored more conveniently and used to power clean vehicles.

Chemists at Liverpool are now investigating ways to store larger quantities of methane gas at higher temperatures and lower pressures as part of a project funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Source: University of Liverpool

Explore further: Ice cream goes Southern, okra extracts may increase shelf-life

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Ebullition causes methane emissions in tropical reservoirs

Aug 14, 2014

For the first time, methane emissions by ebullition from tropical reservoirs have been accurately quantified, revealing that this emission pathway depends on both the water level in the reservoir, which is dependent on the ...

Studying wetlands as a producer of greenhouse gases

Jul 22, 2014

(Phys.org) —Wetlands are well known for their beneficial role in the environment. But UConn Honors student Emily McInerney '15 (CAHNR) is studying a less widely known role of wetlands – as a major producer ...

How shale gas can boost US manufacturing

Aug 05, 2014

The American shale gas boom has the potential to revitalize domestic manufacturing, and a new report from a University of Michigan-led panel recommends steps to make that happen in a responsible manner.

Recommended for you

The fluorescent fingerprint of plastics

8 hours ago

LMU researchers have developed a new process which will greatly simplify the process of sorting plastics in recycling plants. The method enables automated identification of polymers, facilitating rapid separation ...

Water and sunlight the formula for sustainable fuel

13 hours ago

An Australian National University (ANU) team has successfully replicated one of the crucial steps in photosynthesis, opening the way for biological systems powered by sunlight which could manufacture hydrogen ...

Rice chemist wins 'Nobel Prize of Cyprus'

13 hours ago

Rice University organic chemist K.C. Nicolaou has earned three prestigious international honors, including the Nemitsas Prize, the highest honor a Cypriot scientist can receive and one of the most prestigious ...

Researchers create engineered energy absorbing material

14 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Materials like solid gels and porous foams are used for padding and cushioning, but each has its own advantages and limitations. Gels are effective as padding but are relatively heavy; gel performance ...

User comments : 0