Status and prospects of the decentralised valorisation of natural gas into energy and energy carriers

Chem Soc Rev. 2021 Mar 15;50(5):2984-3012. doi: 10.1039/d0cs01506g.


Natural gas is widely considered as the key feedstock to enable the transition from the oil to the renewables era. Despite its vast reserves, the use of this resource to produce energy and chemicals does not match its full potential. The main reason lies in the nature of its wells, which are often found in remote locations around the globe, rendering access and transportation challenging. To aid this development, several technologies for energy and energy carrier production have been developed, all of which have in common the goal of upgrading natural gas directly at the source of extraction. Following this direction, this review firstly analyses the advances in process design towards decentralised generation of electricity and of liquefied natural gas. Subsequently, recent efforts in progress made in catalysed alkane transformations using heterogeneous catalysts are reviewed for small-scale chemicals and fuels production. The presented analysis identifies that techno-economic and life-cycle assessments should be widely performed to enable proper technological benchmarking of these technologies. The integration of these multidisciplinary fields is key to foster synergies between researchers in the areas of decentralised energy and energy carrier generation in view of developing effective and efficient processes for valorising natural gas directly on-site.

Publication types

  • Review