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Syntroleum and Sustec to Develop Coal-to-Liquids Plant In Germany

5 June 2006

Syntroleum Corporation and Sustec Industries have entered into a joint project development agreement to develop a nominal 3,000 barrel per day (bpd) Syntroleum Fischer-Tropsch (FT) and Synfining unit as the first phase of a possible 20,000 bpd project at Sustec’s Schwarze Pumpe industrial facility at Spreetal, Germany.

The 3,000 bpd Spreetal CTL plant is the first project under the Sustec-Syntroleum joint venture announced in January this year that provides for exclusive joint business development of projects integrating Sustec’s gasification technology (from its Future Energy GmbH portfolio company) with Syntroleum’s Fischer-Tropsch (FT) technology. (Earlier post.)

Sustec’s project includes an expansion of their existing gasification capacity using the Future Energy GSP technology which was originally developed by Sustec and its predecessor companies and recently acquired by Siemens Company. Sustec also intends to expand its methanol production and power plant at Schwarze Pumpe following the installation by Siemens of new GSP gasification units totaling more than 1,000 megawatts (MW) capacity.

The Future Energy GSP gasification technology is an entrained-flow pressure gasification system that gasifies a stream of pulverized coal (or atomized liquid fuel or a fuel slurry) with oxygen. Different implementations of the gasifier technology can handle different feedstocks, such as biomass. The gasification reaction takes place under high temperature and pressure. The GSP method offers very high carbon conversion (greater than 99%), and produces a tar-free synthesis gas.

The Syntroleum FT unit will be a slurry reactor utilizing cobalt catalyst and will produce clean-burning synthetic diesel and specialty chemicals from synthesis gas made from lignite coal, municipal waste and biomass that currently are being gasified at the Schwarze Pumpe facility.

The existing Rectisol syngas and carbon adsorption units used for syngas clean-up processing will also be expanded as part of this initial FT project. The pre-FEED engineering work and feasibility study for the current project, named Spreetal CTL, are expected to be initiated by mid-summer with completion of this work expected by the end of this year. Final project sanction is expected to be decided by first quarter 2007.

Sustec has pledged significant initial equity in the Schwarze Pumpe expansion project including the 3,000 bpd CTL plant. This project has been pre-qualified for financial support from the Saxony (Sachsen) State Government and is currently eligible for over a €100 million (US$128 million) grant.

The project development agreement replaces the memorandum of understanding executed in January of this year. Sustec and Syntroleum will both hold a 50% interest in the project development agreement. The Spreetal CTL project will be the first commercial plant utilizing the Syntroleum technology.

Syntroleum Corporation owns a proprietary process for converting natural gas or synthesis gas derived from coal and other carbon-based feedstock into synthetic liquid hydrocarbons. Although originally targeting stranded gas field with its GTL technology, Syntroleum began testing CTL applications of its technology in 2005. (Earlier post.)

The company plans to use its technology to develop and participate in natural gas and coal monetization projects in a number of global locations. Syntroleum has operated an FT pilot plant in Tulsa, Oklahoma, since the early 1990s and has been operating its 100-bpd Catoosa FT demonstration facility since 2004.

In May, the US Air Force announced that it will test fly a B-52 powered in part by Syntroleum GTL. The bomber will fly with two of its eight jet engines using a blend of conventional petroleum-derived JP-8 and Syntroleum Fischer-Tropsch jet fuel produced from natural gas. The experiment is part of the Department of Defense’s Assured Fuel Initiative.

June 5, 2006 in Coal-to-Liquids (CTL) | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (1)

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Comments

The Germans produced a lot of CTL gasoline and diesel during WW 2. When oil becomes too expensive (or just plain unavailable), this is an expensive but technologically viable alternative.

I'd prefer to see the country focus on BTL instead, as that does not create any net CO2. Since the downstream portion of all xTL technologies are somewhat similar (FT synthesis), perhaps this will be a stepping stone on the way to renewable synthetics. For now, coal looks cheaper but the bill for global warming has not come in yet.

BTL is already under way, like in France. Of course BTL will play a dominant role in Europe as it will be in the US. But including CTL is the even better solution. No more subsidies to the coal mines. No more subsidies to agriculture because of BTL and regular ethanol...
The money we spend to buy oil abroad STAYS IN THE COUNTRY. That's the point.

The Germans produced a lot of CTL gasoline and diesel during WW 2.
The South Africans have been doing it for 50 years. There is a lot of mature technology around.

When oil becomes too expensive (or just plain unavailable), this is an expensive but technologically viable alternative.
The break-even point for CTL is in the range of $35 to 40/bbl. I do not expect to see oil that cheap anytime soon, bar a meltdown of the Chinese economy.

I'd prefer to see the country focus on BTL instead, as that does not create any net CO2. Since the downstream portion of all xTL technologies are somewhat similar (FT synthesis), perhaps this will be a stepping stone on the way to renewable synthetics.
I'd second that. In fact, I suspect that is part of why they are doing this. Iron out the problems with coal, and then switch to biomass at some later point.

BTL is already under way, like in France. Of course BTL will play a dominant role in Europe as it will be in the US. But including CTL is the even better solution. No more subsidies to the coal mines. No more subsidies to agriculture because of BTL and regular ethanol... The money we spend to buy oil abroad STAYS IN THE COUNTRY. That's the point.
Death to subsidies! And let's kill the tariff on imported ethanol, while we're at it. I don't understand how choice between Saudi oil and Brazilian ethanol can be bad for the country.

It would be nice to see our politicians have a serious discussion about this. How important is import replacement, especially post 9/11? Why spend all that money making ethanol, when we could be making renewable synthetic oil? Maybe the next Congress will get serious about ending the addiction...

After Germany has sold practically all know how to China (which is currently starting large scale CtL process for 20$/barrel), they finally start again. Just ridiculous is the figure of a mere 3'000 barrel/day. That's just not worth it. Here we can see again: It is the same as in the US, governments are just not interested - for whatever reasons - in oil independence. Or maybe they are only unable.
SASOL,the biggest oil company in South Africa is producing currently 175'000 barrel/day, since 1955!
Why not to engage SASOL to build a large scale plant? Why not to build a plant with 400'000 barrels/day. It would cost about 2 Billion Euros, still less than all the subsidies paid by the German state for the coal mining industry. They have the know how. They are currently building a huge gas to liquids plant in Qatar.
Why the heck want those "developped" countries reevent everything which already exists? Production cost of South Africas' coal to liquid is about 25 US$ / barrel. That's cheap.

Dang it, all the produced CO2 better be used for something. Oil production enhancement (think of a shaken up carbonised soda bottle) could be one. Another would be to feed the processed exhaust gas to algae oil production. It will strip off some of the GHGs emissions, and possibly be a fuel source/carbon credit offset.

Isn't the main idea of making fuel from corn or switchgrass or sorgum or sugar cane or sugar beets or sweet potatoes, because they don't just make it from corn by the way, making a renewable energy source. As I understand it, there's a finite supply of coal in the world too. sure, maybe it would last us for awhile, but then we'd just leave the problem for someone else to solve. You can't make more oil, you can't make more coal. You can grow a crop and harvest it, ferment it, distill it, etc. . .maybe it's not the best answer, but it's a better answer than digging holes in the ground.

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