2012 finds the United States tapping into its own natural gas reserves like never before and even producing enough natural gas for heating and power generation. Experts expect this trend to continue as reserves embedded in share are gradually uncovered and are excited by this projection since it burns cleaner than coal and can be used to generate electricity.
Natural gas production has increased drastically since petroleum reserves are in decline.
Dow’s 2007 Methane Challenge prompted researchers to identify innovative chemical processes that would assist the conversion of methane to ethylene. Over 100 proposals from around the world were submitted – universities, companies, institutes. Subsequently Dow awarded funding to Cardiff University and Northwestern University to intensify research efforts.
The hope is that by developing new methods to extract the abundant quantities of natural gas from hidden reserves, this might lead to opportunities for development of catalytic processes that can convert methane to chemicals. The discovery that using sulfur to catalyze the conversion of methane to ethylene is promising in the quest to determine new catalytic processes.
The research is still in its infancy, but scientists find the possibilities promising and hope that further research may go toward finding a useful and productive way to rid the world of this potent greenhouse gas.