Compact Inexpensive Reformers for Natural Gas

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OPEN 2012
Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
Project Term:
03/15/2013 - 06/30/2017

Technology Description:

Research Triangle Institute (RTI) is leveraging existing engine technology to develop a compact reformer for natural gas conversion. Reformers produce synthesis gas—the first step in the commercial process of converting natural gas to liquid fuels. As a major component of any gas-to-liquid plant, the reformer represents a substantial cost. RTI’s re-designed reformer would be compact, inexpensive, and easily integrated with small-scale chemical reactors. RTI's technology allows for significant cost savings by harnessing equipment that is already manufactured and readily available. Unlike other systems that are too large to be deployed remotely, RTI’s reformer could be used for small, remote sources of gas.

Potential Impact:

If successful, RTI’s compact natural gas reformer would enable micro gas-to-liquid plants capable of economically producing 5,000 gallons of equivalent liquid fuels per day.


Increasing the utility of geographically isolated natural gas reserves would decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil—the transportation sector is the dominant source of this dependence.


Trillions of cubic feet of natural gas are burned off, or “flared”, during petroleum refinery. Reactors that capture and convert natural gas into fuel would result in a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the refinery industry.


Widespread use of natural gas as transportation fuel would decrease our foreign oil imports, allowing us to keep more dollars at home.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Christopher Atkinson
Project Contact:
Dr. John Carpenter
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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