Renewable energy based catalytic CH4 conversion to fuels
Natural gas is envisioned as a primary source of hydrocarbons in the foreseeable future. With the abundance of shale gas, the main concerns have shifted from the limited hydrocarbon availability to the sustainable methods of CH4 conversion to fuels. This is necessitated by high costs of natural gas transportation in its native gaseous form. Conventional gas-to-liquid conversion technologies are capital and scale intensive and can hardly be envisioned in their current form to be cost efficient in the remote locations of the natural gas extraction sites. Solar energy can be utilized at the gas extraction site to perform catalytic CH4 conversion using electrons obtained via photovoltaics or directly with photons. We provide broader insight into the catalytic CH4 conversion methods that utilize renewable energy via photo(electro)catalytic processes, with particular focus on the catalytic materials used, reaction conditions and intermediates, as well as their selectivity. Based on the currently available scientific literature, we propose several hybrid catalytic CH4 conversion processes based on both conventional and renewable – photo(electro)chemical – catalysis.