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Carbon Sciences announces successful performance testing of catalyst to transform greenhouse gases into gasoline

22 November 2010

Carbon Sciences, Inc. announced the successful performance testing of its novel catalyst to transform greenhouse gases into gasoline. In August, the company had announced the successful synthesis of the raw catalyst. (Earlier post.)

From literally thousands of options, we have narrowed down our choice to two catalyst designs. More importantly, our rigorous testing shows that the catalysts work in accordance with earlier computer simulations.

The key features we have confirmed in our tests are high conversion efficiency and potential for catalyst longevity, which translates directly into commercial viability. High conversion efficiency means lower capital cost to produce substantial quantities of fuel. Longevity means that our systems will not require frequent shutdown for maintenance and catalyst cleaning. These are the primary challenges faced by previous industry attempts. Our initial laboratory results lead us to believe that we will be able to overcome these challenges at commercial scale. Lastly, unlike catalysts previously considered by others, our catalysts are designed using common metals that are plentiful and inexpensive.

—Dr. Naveed Aslam, Chief Technology Officer

The catalyst performs two important functions: (1) Extract hydrogen atoms from CH4 to form low-level hydrocarbons, and (2) Convert low-level hydrocarbons into higher-level gasoline-range hydrocarbons.

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It's somewhat misleading to say "greenhouse gases" when one means methane. Methane is a perfectly good fuel all by itself.

EP CH4 makes good motor fuel when you have to massively change the existing infrastructure to use it. You have to modify the vehicles to hold a pressure tank or cryotank, you have to build out filling stations were talking hundreds of billions of dollars in structural changes. This allows cheap plentiful methane to be converted to something that is fungible on the existing market and usable by the existing infrastructure. Not only is the USA awash in shale and tight sands methane over 100 years at 100% current production levels and we have not even broken the surface of the potential of shale gas we are the Saudi Arabia of shale gas.

The GOM has massive methane hydrates that would be economical at 6-8 MMBTU very very soon were testing the technologies successfully I might add in Canada and Alaska right now in preproduction for methane hydrate gas. The GOM and American OCS are estimated to hold 20000 Trillion cubic feet of Methane recoverable as hydrate gas this technology when perfected will give us over 1000 years of Methane for domestic consumption the deep hot biosphere is always making methane as a byproduct of chemosynthesis, research is showing life at over 3km deep in the lower crust with archaebacteria churning out CH4 as a byproduction of anaerobic chemosynthesis.

This is confirmed by the fact that the C12 C13 ratios of hydrate gas is skewed to the mantle side not the atmo/biosphere side. this points to an almost unlimited supply of methane subsea hydrates they are found anywhere the pressure temp curve crosses the stability point worldwide, the estimated world reserve is in the ~200000+ trillion cubic feet if even 10% is recoverable that's hundreds of years of use.

This also says nothing of using the estimated 7000 Trillion cubic feet of stranded gas too remote from market to be economically transported currently this gas is flared or has to be recompressed and injected back down bore adding to the total cost of oil. monetizing this gas is the golden dream of remote field operators.

Put this type of catalysts on a microchannel reactor system and put the whole thing in a ISO 40ft container unit and ship it to the remote field as a modular system build inmass using Fordist production methods. Transporting liquids is an order of magnitude more economical than pressurized or cryoliquified gas.

No this is significant going from methane to petrol range liquids is huge. Liquid fueled ICE already can hit PZEV standards and soon will be ZEV as in CO2 and water only at the tail pipe once GDI engines get particulate traps CARBS job is done the exhaust is cleaner than the air going in.

Natural gas to liquid hydrocarbons is nothing new. http://www.google.com/search?q=gas+to+liquids

Maybe they are just trying to do it in one step, which might lead to an improved process.

Seems to be mostly marketing so far.

The world flares off more natural gas than the U.S. uses. If you can turn that flare gas into methanol we could power millions of cars.

Correction, that was a quote that I never verified.

"In 2006 alone, oil producing companies and countries burned close to 170 billion cubic meters of natural gas, equivalent to a whopping 27% of total U.S. natural gas consumption or 5.5% of total global production of natural gas."

So suffice it to say there is a lot burned off. Maybe 20% of the cars in the U.S. could run on the natural gas flared off.

They might be describing a methane to methanol process without reforming. With reforming you put 100,000 BTUs of methane in and you get 57,000 BTUs of methanol out. With the direct process it could be more like 100 in 70 out.

Then they refer to what sounds like the Mobil methanol to gasoline process. I do not know how efficient that is, but we would only need 15% of what we used. This is why I like biomass to methanol, you turn the biomass into synthesis gas anyway as part of the process.

Wikipedia lists the HHV of CH4 as 889 kJ/mol and MeOH as 726, so the theoretical efficiency of a direct-oxidation process is over 81%.

There was some recent work using SO3 as the oxidant for CH4, producing CH3OH and SO2. SO2 oxidizes back to SO3. The process requires a platinum catalyst, so it may not be very cheap to make a plant.

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