|Velocys’ microchannel reactor enables the downsizing of FT GTL plants.|
Velocys, a subsidiary of Battelle Memorial Institute, is receiving an additional $1m in funding from the Defense Department (DoD) for further work on compact Fischer-Tropsch reactors that could enable the production of Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) synthetic fuels near the point of use.
Velocys is a microchannel specialist, and is also working with oil and gas major Total to develop compact GTL systems suitable for installation on land or on offshore floating production facilities. Such compact reactors would offer Total a way to monetize otherwise stranded gas or other hydrocarbon resources through their conversion into liquid product. (Earlier post.)
|A lab-scale test reactor with capacity of 0.08 bpd. (3.4 gallons)|
Velocys’ chemical processors are characterized by parallel arrays of microchannels, with typical dimensions ranging between 0.025cm to 0.5cm (0.010–0.200 inch). The enhanced heat and mass transfer of microchannel hardware allow reactions to proceed much more quickly than traditional processes, enabling higher product yield and greater energy efficiency. By effectively controlling heat transfer rates and temperature ranges, microchannel reactors allow catalysts to operate in their peak performance windows.
The excellent temperature control provided by the microchannel reactors enables very short contact time. A conventional fixed bed FT reactor uses a contact time of about 10 seconds; the Velocys microchannel reactor has a contact time of less than 0.2 second.
|Slurry||Fixed Tubular Bed||Velocys|
|Reactor wt, tonnes||1,800–2,000||1,400–1,700||300-500|
|Reactor productivity, bl/tonne||10||12||85|
|A field FT plant would produce 350 barrels per day. Click to enlarge.|
For the military application, the goal would be the development of synthetic fuel production units utilizing Velocys reactors that could enable the production of vehicle-ready fuel to be made in the field from indigenous natural gas.
Fuel accounts for 70 percent of re-supply tonnage needed during combat operations. By generating synthetic fuel in theater, the Army could dramatically reduce re-supply tonnage shipments, freeing up airlift and sealift for other urgent wartime missions. This funding will continue development of a system that can be deployed during conflict to convert natural gas to synthetic fuel for U.S. combat forces.—Congresswoman Deborah Pryce (R-OH), whose efforts secured the funding
The development of compact Fischer-Tropsch reactors would also open the door to many commercial gas-to-liquid opportunities (hence Total’s interest). Velocys estimates that a 10,000–35,000 bpd facility could either be land-based or fit on a floating platform mounted with conventional marine hulls.
Velocys was launched in 2001 and has already developed a portfolio of 50 patents and received $75 million of investment from industry leading partners, including Dow Chemical, ABB and Total S.A.