Research facilitation and management for Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore industry

Sweet Gas Production Using Ionic Liquids

Lead PI: Dr. Robert Singer (St. Mary's University)
Subject Category: Health, Safety and the Environment

Start Date: Oct 2002
End Date: May 2004
Institution / Organization: Saint Mary'sUniversity

From an environmental standpoint, combustion of sweetened gas will minimize the amount of SO2 production; contributing to a minimum degree of acid rain formation.  Also, a newly developed gas sweetening process could minimize the corrosive properties of the gas stream translating into lower maintenance costs to pipelines and perhaps lower costs associated with initial installation of pipelines.

This project was undertaken by Dr. Robert Singer of Saint Mary’s University, through the application of basic science to an engineering problem by studying the ability of ionic liquids to extract sulfur-containing compounds from sour natural gas.  The principal objectives of the project were to develop ionic liquids (new and existing) as extractants for hydrogen sulfide and other sulfur containing compounds in sour natural gas; to isolate extracted sulfur-containing compounds from the ionic liquids for potential use; to recycle the ionic liquids for re-use as extractants in the gas sweetening process; and to extend methodology to the refining of other petroleum products.

During the course of the project, a number of ionic liquids were synthesized that were capable of sequestering thiols (sulphur containing compounds found in petroleum products). For example, thioketals could be reversibly prepared from task specific ionic liquids containing ketone or aldehyde functionalities.  Careful synthesis and characterization of those compounds resulted in slower than expected progress towards the overall project objectives and has fed into ongoing research that is expected to continue to produce significant results.


  • Merrin, M. P. and Singer R. D. (2004) Synthesis of Novel Imidazolium Ionic Liquids and their Evaluation as Selective Adsorbents. [PDF]

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