DME Advances: Road Trials in Japan
New Methods for BioHydrogen

Shell and Shanghai Gas-to-Liquids Road Trial

Shell Gas & Power is working with Shanghai Pudong Bus Transportation Co on a joint road trial of Shell’s gas-to-liquids (GTL) fuel in the city. This is the latest in a series of GTL trials using different types of vehicles in major cities. (List of Shell GTL trials here. Earlier post on Shell/Toyota UK GTL trial here.)

For the next two months, 8 buses on selected routes will run on a 70-30 blend of standard diesel and GTL fuel, a synthetic fuel produced from natural gas through catalytic reactions. Another four buses will run soley on diesel to provide a control group. The trial will measure and evaluate the reduction in emissions and improvement in fuel efficiency and noise levels of GTL-fuelled buses.

Results in the earlier trials showed that the sulphur-free GTL fuel can significantly reduce emissions as, for example, particulates emitted in a current Euro-III light-duty engine using neat-form GTL fuel can be 40 per cent lower compared with current European fuel.

“We believe GTL fuel has a key role to play in the long-term transition to renewable fuels and in the development of advanced engines,” said Jack Jacometti, vice-president of Global GTL Development unit of Shell Gas & Power.

Despite possibly heftier capital costs, the GTL technology can also be used to transform coal or bio-material into liquid hydrocarbon fuels that have remarkable cost-effectiveness performance, according to Jacometti.

“I would say it’s always a good thing to explore and find new forms of energy, especially given the oil-thirsty situation China has faced,“ said Ma Jianxin, director of Hydroenergy Technology Institute of Tongji University.

GTL is a term applied to a number of related technologies that can create liquid hydrocarbon fuels from a variety of feedstocks. The basic approach is known as the Fischer-Tropsch process (named after its German inventors in the 1920s), and is the technology foundation for companies such as Sasol (earlier post on Sasol’s work on coal-to-liquids in China).

Shell provides a good overview of its own approach to GTL using natural gas as a feedstock here. A useful Shell pamphlet providing an overview of alternative fuels, including GTL, is here.


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