[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]
Sasol, GE develop new anaerobic microbial technology for cleaning of Fischer-Tropsch waste water; boosting gas-to-liquids (GTL) value proposition
November 06, 2013
Sasol and General Electric (GE: NYSE)’s GE Power & Water have together developed new technology that will clean waste water from Fischer-Tropsch plants used to produce synthetic fuels and chemicals, while also providing biogas as a by-product for power generation. The new Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor Technology (AnMBR) will be further developed at a new demonstration plant at Sasol’s R&D Campus at its Sasol One Site in Sasolburg, South Africa.
AnMBR involves anaerobic micro-organisms that are able to live in environments devoid of oxygen, such as sediment layers on floors of lakes, dams and the ocean. Sasol currently uses aerobic microbes to treat GTL and coal-to-liquids (CTL) effluents in ORYX GTL, Qatar and Synfuels, Secunda facilities.
Pinto Energy to build 2,800 bpd small-scale GTL plant in Ashtabula; Velocys microchannel technology
September 23, 2013
Pinto Energy LLC (Pinto), a developer of smaller scale Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) facilities, will build a 2,800 barrel per day (bpd) GTL plant at Pinto’s 80-acre industrial site to the east of Ashtabula, Ohio. The plant will convert abundant low-cost natural gas from the Utica and Marcellus shale region into high-value specialty products (solvents, lubricants and waxes), as well as transportation fuels.
Pinto has chosen to utilize Velocys Plc (Velocys) Fischer-Tropsch microchannel reactor technology. (Velocys is part of the Oxford Catalysts Group plc; Oxford Catalysts is changing its name to Velocys plc on 25 September 2013.) Velocys advanced catalysts and proprietary microchannel reactors offer unparalleled efficiencies for GTL projects today, Pinto said. The company has agreed to commercial license terms with Velocys and made a down payment towards the FT reactors.
ARPA-E awarding $3.5M to Berkeley Lab project to develop novel enzymatic gas-to-liquids pathway
September 22, 2013
On 19 September, the Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) awarded $34 million to 15 projects to find advanced biocatalyst technologies that can convert natural gas to liquid fuel for transportation. (Earlier post.) The largest award in the technical area of High-Efficiency Biological Methane Activation in the new program, (Reducing Emissions using Methanotrophic Organisms for Transportation Energy—REMOTE, earlier post), provides $3.5 million to a team led by Dr. Christer Jansson at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) to work on a novel methylation process to convert natural gas to liquid transportation fuels.
The project, called “Enzyme Engineering for Direct Methane Conversion,” involves designing a novel enzyme—a PEP methyltransferase (PEPMase)—by engineering an existing enzyme to accept methane instead of carbon dioxide. This methylation process, which does not exist in nature, will be used as the basis for the gas-to-liquids pathway.
ARPA-E selects 33 projects for $66M in awards; advanced biocatalysts for gas-to-liquids and lightweight metals
September 19, 2013
The US Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) is awarding around $66 million to 33 projects under two new programs. One program, Reducing Emissions using Methanotrophic Organisms for Transportation Energy (REMOTE, earlier post), provides $34 million to 15 projects to find advanced biocatalyst technologies that can convert natural gas to liquid fuel for transportation.
The other program, Modern Electro/Thermochemical Advancements for Light-metal Systems (METALS, earlier post), provides $32 million to 18 projects to find cost-effective and energy-efficient manufacturing techniques to process and recycle metals for lightweight vehicles. The funding opportunity announcements for both programs were released earlier this year in March.
EIA: world energy consumption to grow 56% 2010-2040, CO2 up 46%; use of liquid fuels in transportation up 38%
July 25, 2013
|World energy consumption by fuel type, 2010-2040. Source: IEO2013. Click to enlarge.|
The US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) International Energy Outlook 2013 (IEO2013) projects that world energy consumption will grow by 56% between 2010 and 2040, from 524 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) to 820 quadrillion Btu. Most of this growth will come from non-OECD (non-Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, where demand is driven by strong population and economic growth; energy intensity improvements moderate this trend
Renewable energy and nuclear power are the world’s fastest-growing energy sources, each increasing 2.5% per year, according to the biennial report. However, fossil fuels continue to supply nearly 80% of world energy use through 2040. Natural gas is the fastest-growing fossil fuel, as global supplies of tight gas, shale gas, and coalbed methane increase. Given current policies and regulations limiting fossil fuel use, worldwide energy-related CO2 emissions rise from about 31 billion metric tons in 2010 to 36 billion metric tons in 2020 and then to 45 billion metric tons in 2040, a 46% increase over the 30-year span.
Fulcrum BioEnergy demonstrates integrated process to convert MSW to jet and diesel; $4.7M DoD grant to begin plant engineering
May 28, 2013
Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inc. has successfully demonstrated the conversion of municipal solid waste (MSW)—household garbage—into jet and diesel fuels. Fulcrum says its ability to produce drop-in fuels from MSW opens up an 80 billion gallon per year fuel market and expands its customer base for its national development program.
This demonstrated process adds fuel diversity to Fulcrum’s products and complements its previously demonstrated MSW-to-ethanol process. For that process, Fulcrum uses a two-stage thermochemical process involving gasification of municipal solid waste (MSW) followed by the catalytic conversion of the syngas to ethanol. (Earlier post.)
Primus Green Energy to support gas-to-liquids research at Princeton University; comparing STG+ to other GTL platforms
March 28, 2013
|Schematic diagram of the Primus STG+ process. Click to enlarge.|
Primus Green Energy Inc., developer of a proprietary process to produce gasoline and other fuels from biomass and/or natural gas (earlier post), will provide financial support to engineers at Princeton University for general research on synthetic fuels, which will include assessments of various gas-to-liquids (GTL) technologies—including Primus’ own STG+—for sustainability and economic viability.
STG+ technology converts syngas into drop-in high-octane gasoline and jet fuel with a conversion efficiency of ~35% by mass of syngas into liquid transportation fuels (the highest documented conversion efficiency in the industry) or greater than 70% by mass of natural gas. The fuels produced from the Primus STG+ technology are very low in sulfur and benzene compared to fuels produced from petroleum, and they can be used directly in vehicle engines as a component of standard fuel formulas and transported via the existing fuel delivery infrastructure.
ARPA-E to award up to $20M to projects for bioconversion of methane to liquid fuels; seeking <$2/gge and ability to meet US demand for transportation fuels
March 17, 2013
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) has issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0000881) for up to $20 million to fund the development of bioconversion technologies to convert methane into liquid fuels. (Earlier post.) This program envisions the development of transformative bioconversion technologies that are capable of producing liquid fuels economically from natural gas at less than $2 per gallon of gasoline equivalent and at levels sufficient to meet US demand for transportation fuels.
Of interest for the Reducing Emissions Using Methanotrophic Organisms For Transportation Energy (REMOTE) program are biological routes to improve the rates and energy efficiencies of methane activation and subsequent fuel synthesis, as well as approaches to engineer high-productivity methane conversion processes. REMOTE considers three technical categories:
China-US team develops new platinum-cobalt nanocatalysts for low-temperature aqueous phase Fischer-Tropsch synthesis
March 07, 2013
Researchers from China and the US have developed Pt−Co nanoparticles (NPs) which proved to be effective and efficient catalysts for aqueous-phase Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (FTS) at 433 K (160 °C)—a lower operational temperature than can be achieved with conventional catalysts. A report on their work is published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Fischer−Tropsch synthesis is a well-established catalytic process that converts syngas derived from fossil fuels or biomass to liquid fuel products. As the process is highly exothermic and thermodynamically favored at low temperature, it is desirable to develop a catalyst system that could facilitate working at low reaction temperature while maintaining excellent catalytic performance, they note.
Researchers develop new Fischer-Tropsch catalyst and production method; Total patents both
March 05, 2013
A team of researchers led by University of Amsterdam (UvA) chemists has developed new Fischer-Tropsch catalysts—consisting of ultra-thin cobalt shells surrounding inexpensive iron oxide cores—that can be used to produce synthetic fuels from natural gas and biomass. The method used to produce the catalysts is based on an approach previously optimized for preparing magnetic tape for audio cassettes in the 1960s.
France-based energy major Total, which was part of the research team, has patented the new catalysts and the method for their preparation, naming the UvA researchers as co-inventors. The research has just been published online as a VIP (very important paper) communication in the journal Angewandte Chemie.
G2X Energy and EMRE sign methanol to gasoline technology license and license option agreements; plans for $1.3B natural gas to gasoline plant
January 18, 2013
|The ExxonMobil MTG process flow diagram. Source: EMRE. Click to enlarge.|
G2X Energy, Inc., a developer of natural gas to gasoline projects, entered into a licensing agreement to use ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company’s (EMRE’s) methanol-to-gasoline (MTG) technology (earlier post) in the development of a world-scale natural gas to gasoline project. (Earlier post.) G2X Energy is the first to secure a long term multi-site agreement with EMRE for natural gas based methanol to gasoline projects.
G2X Energy says will leverage its strategic partnership with the Proman Group, a leading process plant engineering and operating company, and EMRE’s MTG technology to create a platform to expand natural gas’ role in the existing transportation fuels market.
Muons and ADNA proposing using accelerator-driven subcritical reactor for heat for production of synthetic fuels and chemicals
December 28, 2012
|Functional elements of the GEM*STAR reactor. Source: Muons, Inc. Click to enlarge.|
Muons, Inc., a private-sector high-energy accelerator physics firm, and ADNA (Accelerator-Driven Neutron Applications) Corp., are proposing using spent nuclear fuel (SNF), natural uranium, or excess weapons-grade plutonium (W-Pu) in a proposed GEM*STAR accelerator-driven subcritical reactor (ADSR) to provide the process heat and steam for the Fischer-Tropsch production of synthetic diesel from natural gas and other carbonaceous feedstocks (e.g., biomass or coal).
An initial proposed plant using GEM*STAR’s with the Fischer-Tropsch process would produce 70 million gallons of diesel fuel per year at an estimated cost of production of less than $2.00 per gallon, according to the company, while also dealing with the issue of waste nuclear materials.