CISTAR's Researchers Publish Findings for a New, More Economical Process for Converting Natural Gas Liquid (NGL) to Liquid Fuel

Event Date: September 21, 2021

Researchers at the Center for Innovative and Strategic Transformation of Alkane Resources (CISTAR) have created a new, more economical process for converting natural gas liquid (NGL) to liquid fuel. With this unprecedented method, shale gas has the ability to become an economic and valuable resource to serve as a ‘bridge fuel’ as sustainable energy technologies are implemented over the next several decades. 


Dr. Rakesh Agrawal, Winthrop E. Stone Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering in the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering and his team at Purdue University, introduces a highly-intensified and simplified process that approaches the conversion via dehydrogenation followed by oligomerization with their research published in Cell Reports Physical Science. The paper,  Alternative Ordering of Process Hierarchy for More Efficient and Cost-Effective Valorization of Shale Resources,” reveals how a process of  ‘NGL Activation - NGL Upgrading - Backend Separation’ rather than traditional ‘Frontend Separation - NGL Activation - NGL Upgrading’ eliminates repeated operations and allows for less equipment and lower process costs while enhancing operability. 


“Our process exploits the presence of methane in shale gas by directly feeding shale gas to the alkane cracker thereby lowering concentration of NGLs in the cracker and primarily providing ethylene as the product. This leads to process intensification and simplification by eliminating expensive process equipment that is generally present in conventional processes. This is exciting as it provides us with the unique opportunity for remote shale gas processing at small scale for NGL valorization,” Dr. Agrawal said. 


The paper is available online on the Cell Reports Physical Science website and will be published in the print edition of the journal on October 20, 2021. 

This research - funded by the National Science Foundation and developed by the Engineering Research Center for Innovative and Strategic Transformation of Alkane Resources (CISTAR) is paramount towards CISTAR reaching the center’s overarching goal of creating solutions that decarbonize the current energy landscape until renewable resources are economically capable to meet the country’s high demand for energy.