Electricity and Liquid Fuels from Natural Gas

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Lemont, Illinois
Project Term:
10/01/2014 - 03/31/2017

Technology Description:

ANL is developing a new hybrid fuel cell technology that could generate both electricity and liquid fuels from natural gas. Existing fuel cell technologies typically convert chemical energy from hydrogen into electricity during a chemical reaction with oxygen or some other agent. In addition to generating electricity from hydrogen, ANL’s fuel cell would produce ethylene—a liquid fuel precursor—from natural gas. In this design, a methane-coupling catalyst is added to the anode side of a fuel cell that, when fed with natural gas, creates a chemical reaction that produces ethylene and utilizes leftover hydrogen, which is then passed through a proton-conducting membrane to generate electricity. Removing hydrogen from the reaction site leads to increased conversion of natural gas to ethylene.

Potential Impact:

If successful, ANL’s hybrid fuel cell will double the efficiency of the system relative to existing technologies, reduce the manufacturing cost from roughly $4000/kw to $1500-2000/kw, and create a small, modular way to produce ethylene.


Enabling more efficient use of natural gas for power generation provides a reliable alternative to other fuel sources—a broader fuel portfolio means more energy security.


Flaring and venting of natural gas results in significant greenhouse gas emissions. Converting stranded natural gas to a ethylene simultaneously reduces greenhouse gas emissions and produces valuable products.


Distributed generation technologies would reduce costs associated with power losses compared to centralized power stations and provide lower operating costs due to peak shaving.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Grigorii Soloveichik
Project Contact:
Dr. Theodore Krause
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Illinois Institute of Technology

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