Oxford Catalysts Group PLC, a developer of novel catalyst technology (earlier post), has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a specialist technology developer for the deployment of Oxford’s proprietary catalysts in small scale Fischer-Tropsch (FT) applications, such as the conversion of bio-waste or flare gas into synthetic liquid fuels—a potential global market of more than 4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day.
FT catalysts are used in the process of converting natural gas, coal or biomass into clean-burning liquid fuels, such as sulfur-free diesel (GTL, CTL and BTL processes respectively). However, conventional FT technologies have been unable to scale down cost-effectively to date.
Oxford Catalysts has developed high activity FT catalysts that can operate at more than 10 times the productivity of conventional catalysts. In combination with novel process technology, such as that provided by the unnamed partner, these catalysts hold the promise of delivering cost-effective small scale FT applications, at anything from 500-5,000 barrels of synthetic fuel per day.
The MOU was signed following months of testing of Oxford’s high activity FT catalysts by the partner, which included successful demonstration for more than 1,000 hours in a one gallon per day pilot unit. The agreement contemplates the supply of FT catalyst for demonstration units, ranging from several kilograms in 2008, to more than a tonne in 2009, with significant commercial volumes beyond, as the technology takes hold in this new market.
Initial development revenues to Oxford Catalysts from this MOU are estimated to be at least US$200,000 during 2008, and increasing in 2009 (pending successful trials). The project could ultimately lead to large volume supply of FT catalyst for commercial deployment through a third party manufacturer. The Company has already identified, and is working with, a major catalyst company that is well suited to scale-up the manufacture of its FT catalysts.
We are very excited about the potential for small scale FT applications, which include capturing flare gas, unlocking the vast reserves of medium sized stranded gas fields, and producing truly sustainable synthetic diesel from organic wastes. Global regulation and legislation is driving the need for small scale FT; we are very well placed to benefit from the inevitable demand.—Roy Lipski, Chief Executive of Oxford Catalysts
In January, Oxford Catalysts signed a Strategic Alliance Agreement with Novus Energy, LLC, to develop technology for the conversion of biogas derived from organic wastes to ethanol and higher-chain alcohols. (Earlier post.)
Oxford Catalysts, a spin-off from research at Oxford University (earlier post), has two key platform technologies. The first is for a novel class of catalysts made from metal carbides which can match or exceed the benefits of traditional precious metal catalysts for applications such as HDS and FT at a lower cost.
The second platform—peroxide reaction catalysts—relates to chemical reactions involving a liquid containing a renewable fuel, such as methanol, ethanol or glycerol, and dilute hydrogen peroxide. The company’s novel catalyst can be used to release hydrogen gas from this liquid, instantaneously starting from room temperature. This Instant Hydrogen technology has the potential to significantly accelerate the commercial adoption of fuel cells in the portable and other mobile markets, according to the company.