Siluria and Wood launch Modus: process technology to convert low-value offgas into high-octane, low-sulfur gasoline blendstock
Siluria Technologies, developer of a catalytic oxidative coupling of methane (OCM) process to convert natural gas into liquid fuels or petrochemical building blocks (earlier post), and Wood, a leader in the delivery of project, engineering and technical services to energy and industrial markets, announced the availability of the Modus process technology for petroleum refiners.
Jointly developed by Siluria and Wood, Modus provides a proven and cost-efficient, one-step process to upgrade low-value refinery off gases, otherwise burned for heat, into high-value fungible refinery products such as high-octane, low-sulfur gasoline blendstock. Modus expands revenue sources and ultimately increases profitability.
The Modus process is based on a commercially proven catalyst system that converts light olefins, such as ethylene and propylene—often contained in refinery offgas streams—to high-quality gasoline blendstock with a 90+ octane rating and ultra-low sulfur content.
Many refinery offgas and fuel streams contain varying amounts of olefins, which require complex and costly solutions to recover. As a result, these valuable streams are often burned for fuel or heat. Modus provides a simple, reliable alternative by upgrading these fuel-value streams to more valuable liquids that can be easily integrated into the refinery product slate.—Robert Trout, Siluria’s President and CEO
Modus can be readily integrated into existing refinery operations with minimal capital investment and operating impacts. Based on standard modular design and construction, Modus can be rapidly deployed as a standalone upgrade during routine maintenance turnarounds or revamp projects.
Modus is now available to customers worldwide under standard industry licenses.
Background. Siluria Technologies began as a startup developing novel bio-templated catalysts for economic direct conversion of methane to ethylene. (Earlier post.) Leveraging work done by MIT’s Dr. Angela Belcher on using genetically modified bacteriophages as scaffolds for constructing inorganic materials such as Li-ion cathodes, Siluria developed novel catalysts for the oxidative coupling of methane (OCM) reaction to produce ethylene (C2H4) directly from methane (CH4) with high performance at low temperatures.
OCM has been the target of intense scientific and commercial interest for more than thirty years due to the tremendous potential of the technology to reduce costs, energy, and environmental emissions in the production of ethylene. However, earlier efforts fell short of developing a commercially viable catalyst, due to high operating temperatures, low activities, and short lifetimes on the order of hours to days.
Siluria combined several highly innovative technologies to create its commercially viable OCM catalysts: (1) the synthesis of nanowire catalysts to create vast numbers of unique, novel inorganic nanowire structures; (2) unique templating technologies; and (3) high throughput screening tools to rapidly evaluate hundreds of catalysts, unlike traditional methods that evaluate one catalyst at a time.
Siluria focused on all key process variables such as temperature, pressure, activity, and catalyst stability and lifetime—not solely conversion and selectivity. The result has been the development of OCM catalysts that operate at significantly lower temperature (several hundreds of degrees lower), practical operating pressures (5-10 atmospheres), high activities, and having standard lifetimes of years under these operating conditions.
Subsequently, Siluria developed a second process—Ethylene to Liquids (ETL)—to convert unpurified ethylene from the OCM process to hydrocarbon liquid fuels. In the ETL process, the OCM ethylene effluent is oligomerized over a catalyst (different than the OCM catalyst) to selectively produce targeted products, such as gasoline, condensate, aromatics, heavy oil diluents or distillates including diesel or jet fuel. (Oligomerization refers to the process of producing higher carbon number molecules from ethylene or other alkenes.)
Siluria’s OCM + ETL process differs substantially from other Gas to Liquid (GTL) processes, such as Fischer-Tropsch (FT) and Methanol to Gasoline (MTG).
For example, Siluria’s OCM+ETL process does not go through any syngas (carbon monoxide and hydrogen) intermediates, which is utilized in the FT process. Converting syngas into hydrocarbon products result in a broad product distribution ranging typically from C1 to C40. This necessitates significant additional refining/separations and energy input. In contrast, utilizing ethylene as an intermediate in place of syngas allows for very targeted production of a specific narrow product slate. The result is a simpler process, lower capital costs and more flexibility in term of scale.
In 2014, Siluria unveiled a development unit for producing liquid fuels from natural gas based on Siluria’s proprietary oxidative coupling of methane (OCM) and ethylene-to-liquid (ETL) technologies. (Earlier post.)