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GFRC committed to enhancing sustainability in the natural gas ecosystem

Published May 15, 2024

The Gas and Fuels Research Center (GFRC) headquartered at Texas A&M at Qatar is emerging as one of the key success stories in bringing together collaboration from academia, industry and government to enhance the position of natural gas in the energy matrix through decarbonization and sustainability.

GFRC is a Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) center created to provide research, educational and outreach services in the area of gas and fuels. These activities and services support the substantial growth shale and natural gas exploration, production, processing and monetization, especially in the United States and in Qatar.

The center is led by founder and director Dr. Nimir Elbashir, with Professor Mahmoud El-Halwagi from the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering in College Station as managing director.

Elbashir said, “More than $100 billion will be spent over the next decade in the area of shale- and natural-gas monetization. There is a critical need to support this growing industry and to offer novel approaches to its sustainable development.  The GFRC aims to serve as a global leader in this area.”

Since GFRC was launched in 2015, it has successfully capitalized on the expertise that Texas A&M’s flagship campus in College Station and its campus in Qatar have in natural gas production and processing. The center has also been successful in establishing key collaborations with industry partners for further research and development into this field.

“GFRC aims to diversify gas products at every step to enhance the economy,” Elbashir said. “The center works on identifying routes to look at addressing sustainability from well to wheel —from exploration and production of natural gas from the subsurface, to the midstream where they are transport and purified before they are refined and processed, and finally downstream, which includes everything involved in turning natural gas into thousands of finished products we depend on every day. It is connected to every process layer and takes an integrated approach.”

The center’s research activities span a broad spectrum of midstream and downstream systems for gas and fuels. The upstream research includes experimental and theoretical methods for reservoir simulation, gas and petroleum flow through production systems, and optimization of the life cycle of a well or a whole field. The midstream and downstream research includes catalysis, reaction engineering, thermodynamics, transport phenomena and process systems engineering.

One prime example of a product developed at GFRC is the CARGEN® technology.  This technology is believed to be the first of its kind that processes natural gas (methane) and captured carbon dioxide (CO2) to produce both syngas, a valuable precursor to numerous hydrocarbon feedstocks that drive Qatar’s economy, and high-quality solid carbon nanotubes (CNTs). And unlike conventional processes, all without releasing more CO2 into the atmosphere.

The CARGEN® technology was developed to advance the dry reforming of natural gas, which is especially attractive as it converts methane and CO2 — both greenhouse gases — through a reactor to produce syngas, a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen that is then processed to make liquid hydrocarbons and ultraclean fuels.

GFRC is supported by a wide variety of skilled researchers, scholars and state-of-the art resources and facilities at Texas A&M’s campuses in Qatar and College Station. These two campuses serve the stated goals of Qatar to be the “Gas Capital of the World” and Texas to be the “Energy Capital of the World.” GFRC brings together 32 multidisciplinary scientists and professors from both campuses, all working in the same area but from different angles to speed up technology development in natural gas processing.

“We are proud to say that the work we are doing is multi-disciplinary,” Elbashir said. “We have entities from the U.S. and Qatar working alongside students, faculty and researchers from College Station and Qatar. And this includes scientists, engineers, economists, safety experts and more.”


GFRC works closely with world-leading scientists, researchers, industrial partners, and government agencies to develop and sustain state-of-the-art technologies in gas and fuels production and processing, to provide world-class research labs and facilities to serve research and industrial needs, to educate the next generation of leaders in gas and fuels, and to provide industry with skilled engineers and scientists capable of supporting and advancing the gas and fuels market. 

Elbashir expressed his gratitude towards the leadership of Texas A&M, Texas A&M at Qatar, Qatar Foundation and TEES.

“Without the unique set of resources and expertise we have, this would have not have been possible. Thanks to the incredible facilities, equipment, laboratories, or the amazing researchers and students we work with, it has been a truly rewarding journey. We look forward to diversifying natural gas research and giving back to Qatar, the United States and the world.”