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Methane is the main component of natural gas. Natural gas is an important energy carrier for distributed heating and transportation applications and it is the most efficient carbon source for the production of synthesis gas (H2+CO). The value of natural gas lies in its high H:C ratio, low heteroatom content and fluid nature. Sustainability is best served by restricting the use of methane for distributed and mobile energy applications, where the clean-up of combustion gases is impractical or infeasible, and also for the synthesis of hydrogen-rich products. For the production of fuels and chemicals, both direct methods, such as liquefied natural gas, and indirect methods, such as methanol and Fischer–Tropsch synthesis, are considered. Guidelines for sustainability as applied to gas-to-liquids conversion are provided. The processes and the refining requirements to produce on-specification transportation fuels are discussed. The processes for petrochemical and lubricant production from methane are likewise discussed.

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