Value creation in natural-gas processes through rational design of processes and products based on atomistic and mechanistic insight in catalyst and reactor parameters under operative conditions
Systematic research going from atom-scale studies to industrial implementation.
Scientific activities and results
inGAP’s vision can be shortened to: “Innovation through fundamental insight”. Catalysis is the workhorse of petrochemical industry, and fundamental insight is primarily obtained by looking into of catalysts under working conditions (Operando/insitu), in combination with mechanistic and kinetic reaction studies as well as quantum-chemical modeling.
Catalysis: our tool
Catalysts are chemical compounds that enable a reaction to occur with lesser energy compared to the reaction without the presence of a catalyst. A fascinating aspect of heterogeneous catalysts is their unique ability to make reactions run at milder conditions with higher efficiency than otherwise feasible, thus explaining why most industrial processes today employ catalysts.
Catalysis is thus a focal point in our research. inGAP’s strategy is to establish a cross-disciplinary centre that integrates experiments, theory and technology within the field of catalytic processes related to chemical conversion of natural gas. Each industry partner has defined a process of particular interest to them, and identified technical challenges in these processes which are addressed on a fundamental level in joint industry-research institute-academia projects.
Natural gas: our resource
inGAP focuses on utilisation of natural gas since this is one of the main sources that may replace oil in the future. However, the versatility of the studied processes make biomass or coal equally likely resource candidates.
We are studying the conversion of natural gas to diesel, gasoline and plastics. One of the processes is already running industrially while other processes are close to industrialisation. Industrial plastic production technology from one of our partners was sold to China in 2011, while another partner is building a demonstration plant for the conversion of biomass to gasoline in the US.
inGAP contributes to the development and improvement of technologies by studying how the catalyst works in each process, particularly how small changes in the catalyst or reaction conditions can have large impact on the product distribution and the stability of the catalyst. The catalyst we study are solid catalysts which look like sand or tablets. However, by using advanced instruments we are able to "see" the atoms that make up the catalyst and how the catalyst changes when in contact with different reactant gases and a different temperatures. This gives us detailed information on how the reaction really occurs at an atomistic level and which conditions give us the desired products (while leaving out the undesired side products).
inGAP's fundamental understanding acquired on the atomistic level enabled one of our partners to develop a better industrial scale catalyst which was implemented at one of their plants in 2010. The new catalyst display a longer life-time thus leading to improved stability of the plant. Such improvements are crucial in order to remain world leading in this highly competitive field. For the processes that are currently being commercialised, inGAP's contributions enable our industrial partners to guarantee higher yields and stability of the processes.
Seminars with all inGAP participants are held every year.