ERE Seminar: David Chester Upham, PhD, Stanford University — Decarbonizing natural gas for CO2-free production of power, chemicals, and fuels

Sponsored by Energy Resources Engineering


Monday, January 7, 2019
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
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Room 104, Green Earth Sciences Building, 367 Panama Street, Stanford
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Decarbonizing natural gas for CO2-free production of power, chemicals, and fuels

David Chester Upham, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Chemical Engineering | Stanford University


In order to meet increasing energy demands for a growing population while reducing net CO2 emissions, new affordable technologies are needed.  This talk will focus on several recently developed catalytic processes for the conversion of natural gas without emitting carbon dioxide.  The approach taken is to produce solid carbon as a product to be used or stored in perpetuity.  Experimental results using a number of different catalysts will be presented in conjunction with process implications and techno-economic analysis.   

One process uses high temperature liquid catalysts for methane pyrolysis where carbon that is stoichiometrically produced floats to the surface and can be continually removed.  Results from experiments using molten metals indicate that they are active, high methane conversion is achieved, and graphitic powder is produced through precipitation. Techno-economic analysis of hydrogen production using this method will be discussed.  Another process catalyzes the partial combustion of natural gas to produce heat, water, and solid carbon.  In this halogen-mediated process, the heat can be used for electrical power production and carbon black is produced.  The application to processes producing syngas and conversion of syngas to C2 oxygenates will also be discussed.

Chester Upham is a postdoctoral scholar in the Stanford Chemical Engineering Department advised by Professor Thomas Jaramillo. He completed his PhD at UC Santa Barbara in the labs of Eric McFarland and Horia Metiu, and his Bachelor of Engineering at McGill University. In addition, he was the Director of Development for Carbon Sciences for 3 years, leading the catalytic development of a CO2 reforming process.  His research interests are in the areas of fundamental catalysis research, process and reactor modeling, and energy systems.

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