By Brian Wallheimer
Scientists in the School of Chemical Engineering are
doing research on a wide range of energy issues,
from enhancing batteries and biofuels to making
better use of oil and gas products.
Their work at the cutting edge of energy science has
a real impact, not only on where energy comes from,
but how that energy affects the environment.
The Purdue Catalysis Center - including the research
teams of Rakesh Agrawal, Nicholas Delgass,
Rajamani Gounder, Jeffrey Greeley, Jeffrey Miller,
Fabio Ribeiro and Arvind Varma - is one of the
School's larger efforts. The group is investigating
methods of re-engineering the hydrocarbons of
natural liquid gas, a product that comes from shale
formations deep underground.
Shale oil accounts for about half the U.S. oil output
per year. There are more than 300,000 wells
producing more than 4. 3 million barrels of oil per day
including 1 million barrels of oil equivilent per day of
natural liquid gas.
Natural liquid gas can be used in production
of plastics, propane and other petrochemical
feedstocks, but it cannot be easily converted to
gasoline, diesel or jet fuels because cost-effective
technology for this transformation is not available.
The Catalysis Center, together with four partnering
universities, explores methods for turning the lighter
hydrocarbons of natural liquid gas into heavy ones,
making them viable as transportation fuels. The team
estimates that mastering this issue could inject $20
billion per year into the U.S. economy.
(continued on page 8)
CUTTING EDGE, CLEANER
AND COST-EFFECTIVE ENERGY RESEARCH
How the School Is Working to Make Energy Better
A moisture flare at the Obenour 1 and 2 well on the Evanson family
farm in McKenzie County, North Dakota. Photo by Tim Evanston
courtesy of Wikkimedia Commons.