Back to Top
Skip to main content
Process Intensification by a One-Step, Plasma-Assisted Synthesis of Liquid Chemicals from Light Hydrocarbons
Project Number
Last Reviewed Dated

The goal of this project is to use plasma stimulation of a light hydrocarbon resource to synthesize value-added liquid chemicals. This work will evaluate the hypothesis that the plasma will serve multiple roles in this transformative chemistry including:

  1. Activation of Carbon - Hydrogen (C-H) bonds at low bulk gas temperature and pressure
  2. Providing a fast response for immediate startup and shutdown
  3. Enhancing the lifetime of the catalyst through plasma-assisted removal of surface impurities, and
  4. Providing a means to activate Nitrogen (N2) to allow for the direct formation of chemicals containing Nitrogen – Carbon (N-C) bonds. In addition, the project will explore the potential for exploiting these processes more broadly, by building on recent discoveries using plasma-assisted methods to convert hydrogen and N2 feeds.

University of Notre Dame – Notre Dame, IN 46556


Flaring light hydrocarbons from wells and refineries amounts to a global, annual loss of >140 billion m3 of natural gas. Not only are valuable, non-renewable hydrocarbons misused during this process, but flaring also contributes more than 400 metric tons of CO2 to the environment. The implementation of chemical processing technology that directly converts light gases to liquid products will relieve the strain associated with gas separations and gas compression at the source.


The project offers the opportunity to assess a potential mechanism to reduce quantities of flared gas at oil and gas production sites, where gas transport options are insufficient or do not exist, by converting the gas to energy-dense liquid products. In addition to providing a value-added pathway for use of the gas, the proposed technology will also offer environmental and economic benefits through reduction of CO2 emissions caused by flaring of light hydrocarbon feeds and through the direct use of CO2 as a soft oxidant. All of these factors offer the potential to meaningfully contribute to ensuring America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy and environmental challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.

Accomplishments (most recent listed first)

Project initiated March 1st.

Current Status

Project activities initiated on March 1st and an initial project kickoff meeting was held on March 10th. The initial phase of the project is focused on plasma reactor design, assembly and validation as well as plasma and background chemistry characterization.

Project Start
Project End
DOE Contribution


Performer Contribution


Contact Information

NETL – Richard C. Baker (
University of Notre Dame – Jason Hicks (