Saving Energy and Money
Moving natural gas is a complicated process. There are over 305,000 miles of pipelines that run within a state and between states. The pipelines are heavily concentrated in Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma (with a secondary concentration in Pennsylvania) – all major petroleum-producing regions of the U.S. More than 1,400 compressor stations serve to pump this gas at high pressure through the pipeline system to close to 18,000 delivery or receiving stations.
Why It Matters
- Methanol is one of the most versatile chemicals available today. It can be used in processes for fuel cell production and biodiesel manufacture. Conversion of methanol to formaldehyde, acetic acid, and alkenes opens the door for the synthesis of hundreds of materials including plastics, fibers, paints, and windshield washer fluid among others.
- There are a variety of methods available for the industrial synthesis of methanol. One common approach involves the use of natural gas to produce an intermediate mixture of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and hydrogen gases known as synthesis gas. This material then reacts in the presence of a catalyst to form methanol.
- Since we are dealing with gas-phase processes, the usual methods of weighing and measuring volumes that we would use with liquid and solid reagents are not suitable. However, knowledge of temperatures and pressures in the system allow easy calculation of molar amounts that permit good estimation of stoichiometric relationships in the system.
- Watch a video dealing with methanol manufacture at the link below:
Show What You Know
Use the links below to learn more about methanol production. Then answer the following questions.
- How much total U.S. proven natural gas did we believe we had in 1982? in 2009?
- What fraction of U.S. households now uses natural gas for heating?
- What percent of the U.S. energy demand is met by natural gas?
- What is needed to convert the excess hydrogen to more methanol?
- What is the current cost of converting a light-duty vehicle to liquefied natural gas as a fuel source?