Conversion of methane, from natural gas and biogas, into aromatic hydrocarbons


Although the worldwide natural gas reserves are still growing, a high percentage of them are still classified as stranded because shipping gas is uneconomical, and the costs of liquefaction and transport are excessively high. The conversion of methane from this and other sources like biogas into shippable high valuable liquids can solve these problems but in some cases the capital costs of current industrial multi-step conversion routes is limiting. ZEOCAT-3D aims to develop a new bi-functional structured catalysts with tetramodal pore size distribution and high dispersion of metal active sites for the conversion of methane, coming from different sources as natural gas and biogas, into high value chemicals such as aromatics (benzene, naphthalene) via methane dehydroaromatization (MDA).


  • ZEOCAT-3D project aims developing alternative direct and cost efficient routes using radically new 3D hierarchical structured catalysts with bi-functional activity, multimodal pore size distribution and high dispersion of metal active sites, that will allow for:
      • Effective control on the product selectivity
      • Easy regeneration and delayed coking
      • Increase of the reaction productivity for the direct methane dehydroaromatization into aromatics.


  • The methodology of the project will be performed from the lab to pilot scale validation in a real environment. Catalyst design and operation conditions will be optimized for different methane feedstock and scaled-up for the construction of a final prototype. The optimization of these catalytic processes will bring enormous advantages for increasing the exploitation of natural gas and biogas, to obtain high value chemicals as the dependence from the current fossil fuel is reduced.

Expected results

  •  Design of bifunctional catalyst: small-pore, 8-member ring windows in the SAPO-34 zeolite cage to avoid in-diffusion limitations.  Design of bifunctional catalyst: small-pore, 8-member ring windows in the SAPO-34 zeolite cage to avoid in-diffusion limitations. 
  • Design of reactor: development of a membrane-assisted reactor based on H2 selective nanoporous ceramic membranes at high temperature.
  • Improvement of methane conversion (>50%)
  • Increased selectivity towards benzene (>90%) 
  • Enhanced performance (7 times less deactivation) and higher yield rates (up to 80%)


  • IDENER (ccordinator)
  • Lurederra Technological Centre (LUR)
  • Tecnología Navarra de Nanoproductos S.L. (TECNAN)
  • National Center For Scientific Research “Demokritos” (NCRSD)
  • Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN)
  • University of technology Eindhoven (TUE)
  • 3D-Catalysts (3D-CAT)
  • Center for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH)
  • University of Poitiers-CNRS (UPO)
  • University of Lille (LILLE)
  • Fundación CARTIF
  • Islamic Azad University (AZAD)
  • Hellenic Petroleum (HELPE)


Total budget: 6 764 020 euros
EC contribution: 6 764 020 euros
Period: from 1st April 2019 to 30th September 2022.


Raúl Piñero Hernanz

Division of Agrifood and Processes


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