GOALI: Methane Upgrading: Optimal Reactor Design

Project: Research project

Project Details


Abstract - Rabitz - 9633359 The objective of this research project is to employ optimal control theory to maximize the yields and conversion efficiencies for the upgrading of natural gas to C2+ hydrocarbons and/or methanol. Specifically, a new type of chemical reactor will be designed and developed that will allow for controllable addition of mass and energy fluxes along the length of a continuous flow reactor. Modular non-catalytic homogeneous gas-phase reactors as well as modular catalytic fixed bed reactors will be considered. The program will consist of both experimental and modeling efforts interconnected by the use of optimal control theory and sensitivity analysis. As part of the modeling effort, optimal designs will be obtained to assist in the creation of the reactor and to suggest optimal experimental operating conditions. e.g., the temperature and mass flux distribution profiles required along the length of the reactor, the selection of which chemical species should be injected along the reactor, and methods to control the quenching process (rates of energy extraction, dilution by chemical species, etc.). Finally, the reactor will be constructed to allow for laboratory feedback to fully optimize the yields of desired products and conversion efficiencies of natural gas under the actual operating conditions. This project involves a collaborative effort between Princeton University and Exxon Research and Engineering in Annandale, New Jersey. The collaboration will involve conducting laboratory experiments and modeling calculations at both Princeton and Exxon that complement each other, provide confirmation of each group's work, and stimulate an active exchange of technology between the two groups in order to expedite the development and industrial implementation of new economic reactor designs for methane upgrading. Optimal reactor designs will be considered for specific chemical systems that include (1) conversion of methane to ethylene, (2) conversion of methane to synthesi s gas, and (3), conversion of methane to methanol. Because of the importance of developing an economic process, projected cost analyses for implementation of the proposed reactor methodology into industrial practice will be performed during the second and third years of the program.

Effective start/end date9/15/968/31/01


  • National Science Foundation: $501,509.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.