The Fourth International Natural Gas Conversion Symposium was attended by 180 delegates from 25 countries. Representation was evenly balanced between industry and academia. The opening address was delivered by Mr Roy Pithey, Chairman of South Africa's Central Energy Fund, who dealt with the importance and utilisation of natural gas in sub-Saharan Africa. Plenary lectures were presented by Professors E. Iglesia (Catalyst design and selectivity for F-T synthesis) and E.E. Wolf (Oxidative Coupling Methane). A number of keynote addresses were delivered:
- Dr T. Fleisch (Amoco) described the use of DME as a transport fuel and the work which has been carried out in this area in collaboration with Haldor Topsoe
- Professor L.D. Schmidt (Univ. of Minnesota) explained his work on the direct conversion of methane at high velocities
- Dr B. Jager (SASTECH R & D) reported on the recent developments in slurry and fluidized bed F-T reactors as SASOL
- Dr J. Rostrup-Nielsen (Haldor Topsoe) discussed the role of catalysis in the conversion of natural gas for power generation.
Areas signalled for further research were: direct conversion of methane to intermediate monomers; methanol conversion to higher alcohols; CO/H2 conversion in a commercially viable route to higher alcohols; and CO/H2 conversion to high quality gasoline. It is obvious that such developments would fit into the energy cycle which has moved from wood, to coal, to oil, to gas, and will most probably move to hydrogen.