As long as methane, the main component of natural gas is still quite abundant, it will inevitably be used to produce methanol, and through it synthetic hydrocarbons and their products. It should also be recognized that (as discussed in Chapter 4) there are also other large methane resources such as unconventional natural gas sources as well as methane hydrates tied up in vast areas of subarctic tundras and under the seas in the areas of the continental shelves. All of these re sources will eventually be utilized to produce methanol as our traditional natural gas resources are increasingly depleted. New ways to convert methane to methanol more efficiently, and without going through the currently used syn-gas-based processes, are much needed [187-190]. Extensive research has been conducted in this direction, and much progress has been made in recent years, especially in the oxidative direct conversion of methane to methanol.
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