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Available Technologies

Title Date Posted Sort descending Patent Information Opportunity
Converting Natural Gas to Valuable Chemicals with Microwave Technology U.S. Patent Pending

This novel patent-pending methane conversion technology employees microwave-assisted catalysis for chemical conversion. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge

Natural gas, primarily composed of methane, is a cheap and abundant domestic resource that can be converted to a wide range of products including liquid transportation fuels and a wide range of chemical intermediates. However, traditional methods of converting methane to valuable chemicals first require it to be converted to synthesis gas.

A direct, one-step, method to convert the methane would have significant advantages over current indirect methods, including reduced costs and increased yields, but several technology barriers must first be overcome. Microwave-assisted catalyst reactions can provide a viable direct method for overcoming these barriers.

Producing Carbon and Hydrogen With NETL’s Novel Iron-based Catalyst U.S. Patent Pending

This new Iron-based catalyst will enable a one-step process to produce hydrogen - a promising energy source that is also environmentally benign - by directly converting methane. The catalyst will eliminate the need to first create syngas and then remove carbon dioxide. In addition to creating hydrogen, carbon, which is also a useful commodity is created as a by-product. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge
The traditional commercial methods of forming hydrogen from methane are based on steam methane reforming, coal or bio-mass gasification, electrolysis, and thermos-chemical processes. Some of these methods are cost-effective, but each requires that syngas first be created and the water gas shift reaction be used to convert syngas to hydrogen and carbon dioxide. From there, the hydrogen must be purified using pressure swing adsorption to separate the hydrogen for the carbon dioxide. Developing a method that avoids these intermediate steps would reduce the cost of producing valuable hydrogen.

Novel Sorbents for Radioactive Contaminant Removal From Wastewater U.S. Patent Pending

This invention describes a technology that can capture radioactive contaminants from wastewater. This technology is available for licensing and/or further collaborative research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Challenge

Radioactive isotopes in liquid nuclear wastes are difficult to remove through conventional methods. Solvent extraction and ion exchange have proved successful for removal, but most of these materials display low selectivity and require the use of environmentally unsafe solvents.  

A Cost-Effective Process for Making Graphene from Domestic Coal for use in Commercial Products U.S. Patent Pending

The invention is a new cost-effective way to make high-quality graphene from domestic coal feedstocks.  This graphene can be used to make a wide range of consumer products such as structural composites, water purification sorbents, stain- and water- resistant textiles, battery materials, and specialty pigments for paints and coatings.  Graphene is an outstanding material made from honeycomb sheets of carbon just one atom thick. Graphene is one of the lightest, strongest, and thinnest materials ever discovered. It has a high surface area, high thermal conductivity, strong chemical durability and high electron mobility making it ideal for use in products requiring mechanical strength, corrosion resistance and thermal/electrical conductivity. This inventive new process also co-produces rare earth elements (REEs) and distilled crude oil liquid, which have their own markets. The co-production of three high value products makes this invention an opportunity to maximize the profitability of a coal-based manufacturing process.

Challenge

Despite their amazing properties, carbon nanomaterials have not been widely commercialized primarily because of their high costs and limited supplies.  Currently, graphene costs approximately $20,000,000 per metric ton and global production capacity is less than 2000 tons/year. The high cost and low supply of graphene are major factors limiting its use in new and innovative consumer products.  These issues are driven, in part, by the expensive carbon feedstocks and complicated manufacturing processes currently used to make graphene.  The invention overcomes these challenges by utilizing inexpensive & plentiful domestic coal in a simple one-reactor process.  This approach brings the total manufacturing costs in line with other specialty materials, such as carbon fiber and carbon black, making the use of graphene in consumer products commercially viable.