For my master’s thesis I want topursue and further research into the development of methane conversion intofuels and chemicals. Methane, the major component of natural gas, is apromising starting material because it has the desirable carbon-hydrogen ratio aswell as abundant reserves.
Moreover the emergence of a number of untapped,unconventional natural gas reserves like shale gas around the world and its lowcost makes it a viable feedstock. That is why I want to be able to contributein this area so that we can utilize it as a raw material rather than simply afuel for combustion and decrease our reliance on crude oil for petrochemicalproducts. For many decades now, production of chemicals and fuels via direct methaneconversion has been deemed as the “holy grail” of catalysis research due to itsinherent unreactive nature, making it very challenging for chemical transformation.Currently, the only viable commercial processes in existence are methanereforming followed by Fischer-Tropsch process but these indirect processes areinherently inefficient and therefore the capital and maintenance costs associatedwith them are relatively high due to their complexities.
However, a more directroute for conversion of methane to value-added chemicals can be quite efficientbut significant research is required to make it commercially feasible. Amongthe many processes available in direct route I would like look intonon-oxidative conversion route, more specifically into methane to aromatics ormethane dehyroaromatization (MDA) which has been concluded to be a promisingfuture technology by a review paper published in 2014 by Tang et al.In the MDA process Molybdenum hasbeen found out to be the most active for methane conversion. But the majorhurdles faced is due to the catalyst’s low selectivity to the desired productsuch as benzene and deactivation via carbon deposition. Therefore there is a direneed for the optimization of the catalyst for process improvement. There havebeen some promising results shown through the use of incorporating a secondmetal (noble metals and transition metals) for improving catalyst stability andmethane conversion.
But some of the results are conflicting and so I would liketo further explore this matter and perhaps gain some insight and advance thedevelopment of the catalyst.I am especially keen onperforming my research under Professor Jafar Soltan as he and I share a similarinterest in utilizing natural gas as a feedstock rather than simply a fuel. Hisextensive research and work in natural gas conversion both in industry andacademia makes him the perfect choice for my master’s research project.
Moreoverone of his current areas of research is conversion of methane to aromaticsusing nano Molybdenum carbide catalysts which falls exactly in line with myintent. He also has immeasurable amounts of expertise and proficiency in thefield of applied catalysis and multiphase reactors in process and environmentalengineering which are key in guiding my project tosuccess. I would be more than honored if I can earn a spot in his researchgroup. During my childhood, dish washingsoap, detergents, paints, cosmetics etc. anything that had a list ofingredients at the back were all captivating to me – drawing me closer to themand propelling me to scan each and every component even though I was unacquainted.
I was fascinated by what each of those ingredients were and their origin point.Then I was introduced to subjects, chemistry and physics, at grade 5 and they immediatelybewildered and transfixed me at the same time. It is as if I was living in a small,claustrophobic box and then my whole world widened up and I was able to finallycomprehend the vast nature of astonishing secrets hidden amongst the tinycrevices of the Universe. At that point I decided that chemical engineering wasthe career for me.After enrolling at METU, Iexperienced a different world opening up to me; excited and thrilled by a new encouragingenvironment, I excelled academically.