For my master’s thesis I want to
pursue and further research into the development of methane conversion into
fuels and chemicals. Methane, the major component of natural gas, is a
promising starting material because it has the desirable carbon-hydrogen ratio as
well as abundant reserves. Moreover the emergence of a number of untapped,
unconventional natural gas reserves like shale gas around the world and its low
cost makes it a viable feedstock. That is why I want to be able to contribute
in this area so that we can utilize it as a raw material rather than simply a
fuel for combustion and decrease our reliance on crude oil for petrochemical
products. For many decades now, production of chemicals and fuels via direct methane
conversion has been deemed as the “holy grail” of catalysis research due to its
inherent unreactive nature, making it very challenging for chemical transformation.
Currently, the only viable commercial processes in existence are methane
reforming followed by Fischer-Tropsch process but these indirect processes are
inherently inefficient and therefore the capital and maintenance costs associated
with them are relatively high due to their complexities. However, a more direct
route for conversion of methane to value-added chemicals can be quite efficient
but significant research is required to make it commercially feasible. Among
the many processes available in direct route I would like look into
non-oxidative conversion route, more specifically into methane to aromatics or
methane dehyroaromatization (MDA) which has been concluded to be a promising
future technology by a review paper published in 2014 by Tang et al.
In the MDA process Molybdenum has
been found out to be the most active for methane conversion. But the major
hurdles faced is due to the catalyst’s low selectivity to the desired product
such as benzene and deactivation via carbon deposition. Therefore there is a dire
need for the optimization of the catalyst for process improvement. There have
been some promising results shown through the use of incorporating a second
metal (noble metals and transition metals) for improving catalyst stability and
methane conversion. But some of the results are conflicting and so I would like
to further explore this matter and perhaps gain some insight and advance the
development of the catalyst.
I am especially keen on
performing my research under Professor Jafar Soltan as he and I share a similar
interest in utilizing natural gas as a feedstock rather than simply a fuel. His
extensive research and work in natural gas conversion both in industry and
academia makes him the perfect choice for my master’s research project. Moreover
one of his current areas of research is conversion of methane to aromatics
using nano Molybdenum carbide catalysts which falls exactly in line with my
intent. He also has immeasurable amounts of expertise and proficiency in the
field of applied catalysis and multiphase reactors in process and environmental
engineering which are key in guiding my project to
success. I would be more than honored if I can earn a spot in his research
During my childhood, dish washing
soap, detergents, paints, cosmetics etc. anything that had a list of
ingredients at the back were all captivating to me – drawing me closer to them
and propelling me to scan each and every component even though I was unacquainted.
I was fascinated by what each of those ingredients were and their origin point.
Then I was introduced to subjects, chemistry and physics, at grade 5 and they immediately
bewildered and transfixed me at the same time. It is as if I was living in a small,
claustrophobic box and then my whole world widened up and I was able to finally
comprehend the vast nature of astonishing secrets hidden amongst the tiny
crevices of the Universe. At that point I decided that chemical engineering was
the career for me.
After enrolling at METU, I
experienced a different world opening up to me; excited and thrilled by a new encouraging
environment, I excelled academically.