Learn more about UC TechAlerts – Subscribe to categories and get notified of new UC technologies

Browse Category: Energy > Hydrocarbon


[Search within category]

High Yield Co-Conversion of Lignocellulosic Biomass Intermediates to Methylated Furans

Prof. Charles Cai and colleagues from the University of California, Riverside have developed a method for high yield co-conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to produce high octane fuel additives dimethyl furan (DMF) and methyl furans (MF). This technology works by using Cu-Ni/TiO2, a unique catalytic material that enables high yield (~90%) conversion of 5-(hydroxymethyl)furfural (HMF) and furfural (FF) sourced from lignocellulosic biomass into methylated furans (MF) in either single or co-processing schemes. This invention is advantageous compared to existing technologies due to its high yield and efficiency, low cost, and stable conversion process.   Fig 1: UCR’s furfural conversion and product yields as function of reaction time over Cu-Ni/TiO2.  

Biomimetic Chemical Compounds for Capturing Carbon Dioxide from Power Plant Stacks and the Atmosphere

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed synthetic biochemical compounds that capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or sources such as power plants. These new derivatives mimic how some plants capture carbon dioxide from the air and use it for photosynthesis.

Determination Of The Optimal Fluid Pulses For Enhancement Of Reservoir Permeability And Productivity

Oil and natural gas extraction techniques commonly rely on hydraulic fracturing to induce and/or improve fluid flow in low permeability rocks. Hydraulic fracturing can be environmentally costly though as it uses a variety of materials, including chemicals and solids, injected into the ground to mechanically fracture and artificially maintain cracks in the subsurface. A UC Santa Cruz researcher has developed a method that uses site-specific reservoir properties to determine the best frequency of forcing to clear fractures and increase fluid flow with pressure oscillations. 

Magnetometer Based On Spin Wave Interferometer

Brief description not available

Direct Synthesis of Light Olefins from Carbon Dioxide using Yttria-Stabilized Zirconia Support

The production of light olefins (ethylene, propylene and butylene) via the activation of carbon dioxide as a feedstock is a challenging reaction that requires intermediate steps and often suffers from low yields. The researchers at the University of California, Irvine, discovered a novel bifunctional catalyst comprising of Zirconium and Indium combined with a zeolite matrix to promote the production of light olefins in higher efficiency and yields.

Ambient Methane Functionalization Initiated by d0 Metal-Oxo Electrocatalyst

UCLA researchers in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry have developed a new strategy to electrochemically functionalize methane at low activation energies under ambient conditions.

High Pressure Heat Exchanger Produced by Additive Manufacturing

Researchers at the University of California, Davis and Carnegie Mellon University have developed a new design and fabrication method for high pressure heat exchangers (HX) using additive manufacturing (AM). This method would allow for the creation of primary heat exchanger (PHX) systems with minimal energy loss.

Isobutanol Production Using Metabolically Engineered Escherichia Coli

UCLA researchers at the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering have engineered Escherichia coli bacteria to produce isobutanol from glucose.

A New and Cost-Effective Technology to Produce Hybrid-Glass/Optical Bubble Probes

The ability to accurately quantify gas volumes in liquid flows has important applications in environmental science and industry. For example, environmental processes that significantly contribute to changes in earth’s climate, such as methane seeps from the sea floor and the exchange of gases between the ocean and atmosphere at the sea surface, demand precise sensors that are small and sensitive enough to measure the ratio of liquids and gases in these bubbly mixtures. These measurements also play a critical role in the operational efficiency of a wide variety of different engineering processes. Applications include, the monitoring the optimal amount of bubbled oxygen in the treatment of waste water and sewage, and the oil and gas industry, especially in undersea oil pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico alone, have spent billions of dollars annually on added refinement techniques to remove seawater that could be preventable if sensors were able to measure the ratio of crude oil, seawater and gas as the mixture is pumped through pipelines. These challenges exist in both research and industry because the current manufacturing process for making the needed gas/liquid probes have significant cost constraints. Clearly, there is a need for a new and cost-effective technology to produce these probes.

Hydrocarbon Production, H2 Evolution And CO2 Conversion By Whole Cells Or Engineered Azotobacter Vinelandii Strains

Using metal catalysts in industrial synthesis of hydrocarbons for fuels can be costly, inefficient, and harmful to the environment. This simple approach uses genetically-modified soil bacterium to synthesize valuable hydrocarbons using recycled components. This novel process is environmentally-friendly and is more cost- and energy-efficient than current industrial synthesis.

Renewable Energy Synthesis System

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a novel system for acetoin and 2,3-butanediol synthesis from carbon dioxide.

Determining Oil Well Connectivity Using Nanoparticles

UCLA researchers in the Department of Chemistry have developed a method of using nanowires to detect underground fluid reservoir interconnectivities and reservoir contents with high accuracy.

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance System for Determining Oil and Water Compositions in Drilling Mud

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) system and method for determining oil and water compositions in drilling mud.

Novel Enzymes Enabling Microbial Fermentation of Sugar into Long Chain Alcohols

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a novel group of enzymes with the potential to facilitate production of energy dense alcohols for use in biofuel and chemical production.

Methods for Fabrication of Electric Propulsion Tips

The technology is a method for fabrication of silicon microfabricated emitter tips.This process has two-step etching process which utilizes field emission electric propulsion (FEEP) and indium propellant.

Durable, Plasticization-Resistant Membranes using Metal-Organic Frameworks

Over the last several decades, polymer membranes have shown promise for purifying various industrial gas mixtures. However, there are a number of potential applications in which highly polarizable gases (e.g., CO2, C3H6, C3H8, butenes, etc.) diminish membrane selectivities through the mechanism of plasticization. Plasticization is the swelling of polymer films in the presence of certain penetrants that results in increased permeation rates of all gases, but an unwanted, and often times, unpredictable loss in membrane efficiency. Current strategies for reducing plasticization effects often result in a reduction in membrane permeability. To address the need for plasticization-resistant membranes that retain good separation performance, researchers at UC Berkeley have developed a novel method for improving polymer membrane stability and performance upon the incorporation of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). This method can be applied to a broad range of commercially available polymers as well as enable new polymers to be commercialized.

Thermal Devices for Controlling Heat Transfer

The technology is a heat transfer device. The key properties are a unidirectional heat flow, thin, sandwich structure, and a T-dependent thermal resistance. The technology functions via the heat pipe effect. The purpose of the technology is to provide a one-way heat flow in a compact form (in a thin layer) with T-dependent thermal resistance.

Metal-Organic Frameworks For Aromatic Hydrocarbon Separations

Nearly all hydrocarbons are generated from petroleum or natural gas processing. Hydrocarbon mixtures are separated into component fractions at scale for the commercial production of fuels and chemical feedstocks. These large-scale systems use a lot of energy and require many sub-systems with expensive adsorbents or membrane materials like zeolites, polymers, metal oxides, and carbon. Since many of these hydrocarbon mixtures have molecules with similar structures, properties, and reactivities, many of the technical challenges and associated high costs remain. Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) hold promise for efficient and complex separations based on their desirable surface areas, tunable pore geometries, and adjustable surface functionality. To help align MOFs with challenges in hydrocarbon separations, researchers at UC Berkeley have developed thermally robust and tunable MOF materials which are capable of separating mixtures of saturated, unsaturated, and aromatic hydrocarbons. The researchers have demonstrated the purification of a four component gas-phase mixture. 

Recirculating Noble Gas Internal Combustion Power Cycle

Conventional power conversion cycles which turn fuel into heat and heat into power are constrained by basic thermodynamic considerations. The most modern technologies have been limited to 60% even with multiple cycles combined (i.e. Brayton and Rankine combined cycle). Recent demonstrations have shown relative efficiency gains of 30% in both spark-ignited and compression-ignited regimes. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, are working to outdo these efforts by working on an ultra-high efficiency power cycle framework using argon as the working fluid. Early laboratory results suggest the argon engine could easily achieve 70% or greater thermal efficiency. Under such research the argon replaces nitrogen as the working fluid and is recycled in the closed-loop system.

Next-Generation Metal-Organic Frameworks With High Deliverable Capacities For Gas Storage Applications

There are many applications that require the storage of a high density of gas molecules. The driving range of vehicles powered by natural gas or hydrogen, for instance, is determined by the maximum density of gas that can be stored inside a fuel tank and delivered to the engine or fuel cell. In certain situations, it is desirable to lower the pressure or raise the temperature needed to store a given amount of gas through the use of an adsorbent. Developments in next-generation adsorbents, such as metal-organic frameworks and activated carbons, have shown certain weaknesses in terms of the amount of gas that can be delivered when an application has a minimum desorption pressure greater than zero and when a significant amount of heat is released during adsorption or cooling occurs during desorption. To help solve these problems, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a next generation of materials using novel porous metal-organic frameworks that demonstrate unprecedented deliverable gas capacities. These engineered adsorbents maximize the amount of gas delivered during each adsorption/desorption cycle. This shows promise in developing next generation gas storage materials for applications with a wide range of operating conditions.

Microstructured Cathode for Self-Regulated Oxygen Generation and Consumption

UCLA researchers have developed a cathode that generates oxygen, consumes the oxygen as needed, and stops the oxygen generation when it is not consumed, all in a self-regulated fashion.

Redox-Active Metal-Organic Frameworks for the Catalytic Oxidation of Hydrocarbons

The selective and efficient conversion of light alkanes into value-added chemicals remains a challenge for those in the petrochemical and chemical industries.  Currently, there is no go-to commercial process for the selective oxidative conversion of C1-C3 hydrocarbons into value-added chemical feedstocks, such as methanol and ethanol. Industrially, methanol is produced in an indirect and energy intensive process beginning with the steam reformation of natural gas into synthesis gas. After fermentation, ethanol is largely produced from the hydration of ethylene/ethene, which relies on the use of concentrated acids and elevates risk for human safety and environment. To overcome these challenges, researchers at UC Berkeley have devised novel materials and methods involving redox-active metals within porous metal-organic frameworks for driving improved catalytic oxidation of small hydrocarbons to their corresponding alcohols and aldehydes. This innovation could be of special importance to the boom of shale gas processing, which consists of largely methane, but also contains large amounts of ethane and other light alkane impurities.

  • Go to Page: