Chemists at the National University of Singapore have improved the technology for converting natural gas from a gaseous state to a solid. The idea was taken from nature - in fact, we are talking about an artificial method of creating gas hydrates, known as "combustible ice". The achievement of scientists is that now this process can be carried out in a matter of minutes and without the use of toxic components.
Gas hydrates are formed when gas molecules are trapped between water molecules, in a kind of cells or cells. They cannot fly apart in different directions, which greatly increases the density of the substance, allows you to enclose a large amount of gas in a small volume and ensure the stability of the substance. In nature, gas hydrates are formed in the depths of the sea under strong pressure, but this process takes millions of years. In a Singapore laboratory, the same thing was repeated in 15 minutes.
Strictly speaking, the technology is not new, but Singaporean chemists have managed to find a new effective catalyst for the reaction of gas absorption by water. It is reported to be the amino acid L-tryptophan, which works in combination with other components called "secret". The formation of an artificial gas hydrate allows the gas to be compressed 90 times, while the substance remains stable and explosion-proof.
In addition to the high speed of obtaining solid matter, the novelty has another advantage - the storage temperature of such a gas hydrate is only -5 ° C. That is, it can be transported in a conventional freezer, and not in the form of liquefied gas in LNG carriers at -162 ° C. This translates into lower cooling energy costs and lower overall costs for handling natural gas. Now chemists are preparing an experiment to create 100 kg of gas hydrate at once in one operation, in order to further adapt the technology for industrial production.