Western Australia has large resources of natural gas (NG), mostly at offshore locations. Having invested billions of dollars in NG production and export in recent years

On-Campus Project Brief 

1. Background

Western Australia has large resources of natural gas (NG), mostly at offshore locations. Having invested billions of dollars in NG production and export in recent years, it is expected that WA will soon be the largest exporter of LNG (liquefied natural gas) in the world. While this is a vital route of commercialising natural gas resources, the price of LNG fluctuates significantly. It is desirable that small-scale productions of higher-value products (such as hydrogen, ethylene, etc.) from methane can be done on-site, to provide flexibility and robustness against price fluctuation.

Methane has a stable molecular structure. The conversion of methane to hydrocarbons is energy-intensive and costly; significant technological breakthrough is needed to discover effective and cost-efficient methane conversion routes. This assignment requires students to explore the current development in methane conversions and carry out thermodynamic analyses of various reaction routes. Your study should focus on reaction equilibria (instead of catalyst and reaction kinetics), for maximising the yield of desirable products.

2. Your Tasks

  • Carry out literature reviews of various reaction routes to convert methane to higher-value products (such as hydrogen, ethylene, etc.).
  • Three routes should be found and reported in your assignment report, such as Route 1: CH4 conversion to syngas by steam reforming reaction.
  • For each route, please undertake the following tasks:

1) Carry out thermodynamic analyses of how: temperature, pressure, and molar ratio of reactants in the feed stream (such as H2O to CH4 ratio in steam reform reaction) may affect the methane conversion rate to the target product(s);

2) Identify if any undesirable side reaction may take place, in parallel with the main reaction;

3) Determine the “best” reaction conditions (in terms of temperature, pressure and the ratio of CH4 to other reactants) that may maximise the conversion of methane to the target product(s);

4)Discuss the validity and reliability of your findings.

3.Your Assignment Report

Title and Contents

Your assignment report should have the title of: “A Thermodynamic Study on Methane Conversions”. It must contain:

  • Title Page
  • Executive Summary
  • Table of Contents
  • Numbered sections and subsections with the following headings:

1.      Introduction (no more than half page long, with the purpose of explaining to your readers the information she/he may expect to find in this report)

2.      Literature review that include: (a) natural gas deposits and production in Western Australia, and (b) methane conversion routes.

3.      Results and Discussion

3.1    Thermodynamic analysis

3.2    The optimal reaction route and condition

3.3    Discussion

4.      Conclusion

5.      References


The main body of your report (i.e. excluding cover page, executive summary, and Table of Contents) must not exceed twelve (12) pages. There is no minimum page requirement. The Executive Summary, Introduction, and Conclusion sections should be brief (no more than half page for each).

5. Marking and Feedback

Assessments of your assignment reports will be based on the following weighting:

  • Competency shown in the Summary, Intro., and Conclusion sections               12%
  • Breadth and clarity of the literature review section                                            24%
  • Breadth, clarity and validity of thermodynamic analysis section                       40%
  • Referencing, structure, formatting, and quality of professional writing                24%

Plagiarised (Do Not Copy)

Title Page

  • Title: A Thermodynamic Study on Methane Conversions
  • Author: [Your Name]
  • Date: [Submission Date]

Executive Summary

This report investigates various thermodynamic routes for converting methane (CH4) to higher-value products such as hydrogen and ethylene. The study focuses on three main conversion routes, analyzing the effects of temperature, pressure, and reactant molar ratios on methane conversion rates. Side reactions and optimal conditions for maximum conversion are identified, and the validity of findings is discussed.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Literature Review
    • 2.1 Natural Gas Deposits and Production in Western Australia
    • 2.2 Methane Conversion Routes
  3. Results and Discussion
    • 3.1 Thermodynamic Analysis
    • 3.2 The Optimal Reaction Route and Condition
    • 3.3 Discussion
  4. Conclusion
  5. References

1. Introduction

This report examines the conversion of methane to higher-value products, focusing on the thermodynamic aspects to maximize yield. It provides an overview of methane conversion technologies, evaluates reaction equilibria, and identifies optimal conditions to enhance conversion efficiency.

2. Literature Review

2.1 Natural Gas Deposits and Production in Western Australia Western Australia (WA) holds vast natural gas reserves, primarily offshore. Recent investments aim to position WA as a leading LNG exporter. However, due to LNG price volatility, alternative small-scale methane conversion processes to higher-value products are being explored.

2.2 Methane Conversion Routes Three key methane conversion routes are explored:

  1. Steam Methane Reforming (SMR): CH4 + H2O → CO + 3H2
  2. Methane Pyrolysis: CH4 → C + 2H2
  3. Oxidative Coupling of Methane (OCM): 2CH4 + O2 → C2H4 + 2H2O

3. Results and Discussion

3.1 Thermodynamic Analysis

  • Steam Methane Reforming (SMR):

    • Temperature: Higher temperatures favor endothermic SMR.
    • Pressure: Lower pressures enhance the conversion of methane.
    • H2O/CH4 Ratio: Higher ratios improve conversion but may require more energy.
  • Methane Pyrolysis:

    • Temperature: Requires high temperatures for efficient conversion.
    • Pressure: Typically conducted at low pressures.
    • Side Reaction: Formation of carbon soot.
  • Oxidative Coupling of Methane (OCM):

    • Temperature: Optimal at high temperatures.
    • Pressure: Low to moderate pressures.
    • CH4/O2 Ratio: Critical to avoid complete combustion to CO2 and H2O.

3.2 The Optimal Reaction Route and Condition

  • SMR: Best at high temperature, low pressure, and high H2O/CH4 ratio.
  • Methane Pyrolysis: High temperature and low pressure, but carbon management is crucial.
  • OCM: High temperature, low to moderate pressure, and precise CH4/O2 ratio.

3.3 Discussion

  • Validity and Reliability:
    • SMR: Widely used and well-understood, reliable for hydrogen production.
    • Methane Pyrolysis: Promising but requires solutions for carbon management.
    • OCM: Potentially high yield of ethylene, but requires advanced control to minimize side reactions.

4. Conclusion

This study identifies optimal conditions for methane conversion routes to hydrogen and ethylene. Steam methane reforming shows the most promise for hydrogen production, while oxidative coupling offers potential for ethylene production, with each route having specific optimal conditions

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