Belfast scientists design natural gas purification method that 'cuts environmental and economic costs'
A process designed to cut the cost of purifying natural gas has been designed by researchers in Belfast.
The system reduces the carbon dioxide content using a mixture of technology and ionic liquid salts.
The new process is aimed at reducing the global environmental and economic costs of purifying natural gas, which is by far the cleanest burning fuel available in large amounts, developers from Queen's University Belfast (QUB) said.
In comparison to current conventional purifying systems, which use volatile and corrosive materials, the new system is safer, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly, they added.
Lead researcher Dr David Wassell said: "Using ionic liquids to remove the carbon dioxide from natural gas could have significant impact on the gas processing industry, particularly with the promise of using the carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery.
"It could make a significant contribution to reducing the environmental impact caused by this energy source."
Natural gas was introduced to Northern Ireland in 1996 and there are now about 170,000 households and 12,000 businesses with a gas supply (including power generators).
The process offers a range of commercial and industrial opportunities. It is compact enough to be utilised on off-shore platforms or installed on land-based gas-processing plants, and once captured the carbon dioxide may be stored, reprocessed, or used for enhanced oil recovery, Dr Wassell added.