The partners conducting the 6-year JAPAN-GTL Demonstration Test Project announced that the project achieved all of the associated R&D goals and successfully established a JAPAN-GTL process as an applicable technology to commercial plants. (Earlier post.)
INPEX Corporation, JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation, Japan Petroleum Exploration Co., Ltd, Cosmo Oil Co., Ltd, Nippon Steel Engineering Co., Ltd, and Chiyoda Corporation established the Nippon GTL Technology Research Association in October 2006 and conducted the project in cooperation with Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation.
The JAPAN-GTL process would, for the first time, allow natural gas containing carbon dioxide to be directly used in a GTL conversion. The Japan-GTL process differs from other GTL technologies such as used by Sasol and Shell in that it utilizes carbon dioxide gas as raw material and does not require any oxygen supply for the syngas reaction.
The GTL process uses innovative catalyst technology in both the syngas reformer and in the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) reactor. Syngas is produced by steam (H2O)/CO2 reforming rather than autothermal reforming (ATR) or non-catalytic partial oxidation (POX) used in other processes. The Fischer-Tropsch synthesis uses a slurry reactor with noble metal or non-noble metal catalysts, as compared to the copper or iron-based catalysts used in conventional processes.
Construction of a GTL demonstration plant with the capacity of 500 barrels per day (80 kiloliters) took around a year and a half. The demonstration test operations were conducted from April 2009 until December 2011, and verified high-grade performances of both GTL processes and catalysts for each process through more than 11,000 hours of demonstration operations, and achieved stable continuous operation for more than 3,000 hours as operation target.
At the same time, the partners conducted supplementary R&D activities including further improvement of catalysts and processes; a technical establishment of scale-up methods; and performance evaluation of JAPAN-GTL products and demonstration test runs using 100% JAPAN-GTL Diesel by city buses of the Bureau of Transportation, Tokyo Metropolitan Government for around 3 months.
As a result of the demonstration test runs, we verified that the JAPAN-GTL Products can be used for actual services, without any problems, as a clean fuel.
The project also evaluated the costs of the GTL plant, and conducted market studies of GTL products, studies on its applicability to gas fields, and economic evaluation in preliminary feasibility studies.