“What happens to gas when it can’t be distributed somewhere?”
Gas is produced from the Earth at all times throughout the year. However, sometimes so much is produced that the local infrastructure can’t even transport it. As a result, this gas may be burned off into the atmosphere. This Gas Flaring not only needlessly increase global warming and wastes resources but is also done so much that the equivalent of 25 percent of the US oil consumption is burned off each year!
Natural Gas Reforming
“How can we obtain Hydrogen from Natural Gas?”
Hydrogen is just as difficult to extract as it is useful. But luckily, there is one method which is able to produce it in a cost effective manner. Most of this is done in a process where high-temperature steam (700°C–1,000°C) is combined with a methane source such as Natural Gas under high pressures (around 2-35 bar) to produce hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and a relatively small amount of carbon dioxide. This process is known as Natural Gas Reforming and is used to create 95% of the natural gas supplies in the U.S.
Image Credit: ceram.material.tohoku.ac.
How can we obtain Hydrogen Fuel?
“How can we obtain Hydrogen Fuel?”
Hydrogen Fuel (H2) is an invaluable resource. Whether it be for powering hydrogen fuel cell batteries or making agricultural fertilizer. However, because of its special bonding properties, pure hydrogen is incredibly difficult to extract. So how can we use our engineering mindset to solve this problem? Well, there are a number of different ways. Natural gas can be reacted with high-temperature steam to for water to create H2 and Co, a very high power electric current can split water into dihydrogen and oxygen, Renewable liquid fuels, such as ethanol, can be reacted with high-temperature steam to obtain H2, and biological fermentation can occur. In the end there are many ways to make our desired fuel in a safe and economical manner.
The environmental impact of methane
“What damage to humanity does the emission of methane cause?”
Most of the discourse surrounding pollutive emissions centers on carbon dioxide. However, there are other greenhouse gasses that have an equivalently repugnant impact on the environment such as methane. Methane, with the molecular formula of CH4, is released from the operation and transport of coal and natural gas. Scientific studies have shown that methane is over 25 times more potent in trapping heat than carbon dioxide! In fact, methane is so dangerous that the American EPA has recently created a new ruling to regulate the emission of this gas (which are estimated to not only save the equivalent of 11 metric tons of Carbon dioxide but also yield economic benefits of 690 million USD).
Organic chemistry functional groups
“What causes Organic molecules to have special properties?”
Organic compounds are some of the most peculiar forms of nature, making up much of the natural world that we observe. But what makes organic chemicals even more important is that they can be divided into components called functional groups. Functional groups are portions of organic molecules that can be classified into different parts. For example, the thiol chain can be thought of as one such functional group. The composition of functional groups within an organic molecule can change the properties of said molecule, such as the boiling point or smell. There are over 20 functional groups currently identified by Chemists (and for all we know there could be more to come!)