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EPA finalizes GHG permit for $1B gas-to-gasoline plant in Texas; 8M barrels per year

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a final greenhouse gas (GHG) Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) construction permit to Natgasoline LLC to construct a new motor-grade gasoline production facility in Texas that uses natural gas as feedstock (gas-to-gasoline, or GtG).

Natgasoline is a new wholly owned greenfield methanol production complex being developed by OCI N.V. The proposed new GtG facility will comprise two main process operations: a methanol plant with a capacity of almost 1.75 million metric tons of methanol per year, and the methanol-to-gasoline plant (MTG), which will produce more than 8 million barrels of gasoline per year. The methanol plant will use natural gas delivered by pipeline as feedstock; the MTG plant will primarily use methanol from the methanol unit, but can also process methanol from other manufacturers.

The methanol feedstock for the MTG process will be fed through a series of MTG reactors, which convert the methanol first in a single reactor into dimethyl ether and then in five parallel reactors into a raw gasoline and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) mixture.

There will be six gas-fired process heaters associated with the MTG unit: one with each MTG reactor to supply heat to the reaction, and the regeneration heater which will periodically combust coke that will build up on the reactor catalyst during operation.

After the MTG reaction, the combined raw gasoline and LPG mixture will be separated into three streams: a LPG stream, to be sent to LPG storage; a heavy gasoline stream to be routed to the heavy gasoline treatment (HGT) for further processing; and a light gasoline stream to be sent to gasoline blending with the product stream from HGT and storage.

The HGT unit converts undesired components by hydrogenation. The HGT reaction produces and LPG stream that is routed to LPG storage and a heavy gasoline stream to be blended with the light gasoline stream, and then routed to storage and loading.

Gtg
MTG process flow. Click to enlarge.

In its application to the EPA, Natgasoline noted that while a Fischer-Tropsch process is an alternate design basis for converting syngas into liquid fuels, the process converts the synthesis gas into a wide variety of different products (e.g., mainly wax, and then oxygenates such as alcohols, aldehydes, carbonic-acids, and unsaturated hydrocarbons). The wax requires further treatment in order to produce gasoline and diesel. This process would generate significantly more GHG emissions to produce the commercial-grade fuels than the proposed natural gas to methanol to gasoline process it proposed, the company said.

The methanol plant is expected to start production in late 2016. It will be the largest methanol production in the US based on nameplate capacity.

OCI N.V. is a global producer of natural gas-based chemicals and an engineering and construction contractor based in the Netherlands.

In June 2010, EPA finalized national GHG regulations, which specify that beginning on 2 Jan 2011, projects that increase GHG emissions substantially will require an air permit. EPA has finalized 54 GHG permits in Texas, proposed an additional seven permits, and currently has 12 additional GHG permits in development in Texas.

EPA believes states are best equipped to run GHG air permitting programs. Texas is working to replace the federal implementation plan with its own State program, which will eliminate the need for businesses to seek air permits from EPA.

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Comments

gorr

Im ready to buy, just put this gasoline for sale at a better price than actual petroleum gasoline near where I live and I will buy for sure get assured . Im sick and tired of petroleum gasoline because it is costly and maybe it is more dirty in the making and there is maybe more carbon deposits in the engine. Can they make a synthetic gasoline with more btu content than what it's actually sold.

SJC

This shows that is can and will be done in the U.S. with natural gas and not just "stranded" gas. Sasol is planning a $10 billion plant in Louisiana as well.

I guess the natural gas to gasoline process can, is and will happen, even though it can not and should not according to some "experts".

HarveyD

About 40 of these plants could replace Keystone II Pipeline?

Engineer-Poet

Let's see...

1.75 million tons MeOH @ 22.7 MJ/kg HHV = 3.97e16 J

8 million bbl gasoline @ 42 gal/bbl @ 3.7854 l/gal @ ρ=0.751 = 955,000 tons gasoline.

955,000 tons gasoline @ 43.7 MJ/kg = 4.18e16 J

Something doesn't add up here.

HarveyD

Other feedstocks?

gorr

Why are they not opening a gas station here after I asked them politely , they sure will have one satisfied customer. Im sick and tire of waiting writing here since years good business opportunities. I have a problem right now with my dodge neon and it's that it cost a lot to fuel as the liter is 1.39 $ and it do only 33 mpg and im not talking of the pollution the refinery do about 25 miles away. There is a zillion barrels of petrol everywhere and another zillion cubic meters of natural gas, so please lower the price at the pump and I will not consume more to keep pollution in check.

Engineer-Poet

There would have to be a lot of other feedstock, yup.

This comes back to thermal efficiency.  Methanol or M85 can be burned in much higher-compression engines than conventional gasoline, with much higher specific power (thus smaller size and lower losses).  Converting methanol to gasoline should be regarded as going backwards.

For that matter, with the Westport/Delphi injector system, converting natural gas to any other molecule should be regarded as wasteful and unwelcome.

HarveyD

Lower cost liquid fuels = massive return of Hummer like 10 mpg very heavy vehicles = major increase in GHG etc.

Amazing (but pleased) to note that BEVs (with rather primitive costly lithium batteries) are progressively outselling superior PHEVs in USA.

Imagine what will happen when batteries performance is increased by 2X and their price is reduced by 50+%.

kalendjay

Converting natural gas to any other molecule is wasteful and unwelcome?

Until one reengineers refineries to promote fractional distillation with no byproduct gas, avoid hydrocracking, and magically turn bottoms into clean drop-in fuel, there will be no separate process stream to convert all free natural gas into its own fuel, like methanol. Hydrogen must be recycled at every phase to upgrade each liquid fraction. Even CO2 is necessary for methanol/MME production. Can't throw away that Sauerstoff.

Or else you will have an economy based on what will be left in Texas when all frack wells lose potential to produce liquids, and you have nothing but liquid petroleum gas to keep up operation. No more proximate than the likelihood that Americans will junk the +150 mil ICE cars that they now own -- more cars than qualified drivers.

HarveyD

If USA and Canada do not export their NG for quick profits, we wouls have enough for 100+ yeats.

By that time REs and BEVs would have replaced most NGPPs and ICEVs and fossil fuel requirements would be much lower?

Engineer-Poet
Converting natural gas to any other molecule is wasteful and unwelcome?

Have you looked at the chemical efficiency of GTL processes?  The higher numbers appear to be around 50%.  The carbon efficiency can be 80%, but even if the process carbon is sequestered you are still emitting 80% of the carbon at the tailpipe to get just 50% of the energy.

When you have engines that can burn natural gas directly with only minor penalties for compression or liquefaction, GTL with non-stranded gas is an environmental crime.

kalendjay

Have you looked at the chemical efficiency of GTL processes?

We are not considering GTL alone in the gas equation, we are looking at capital costs too, which suggest it is ultimately impractical to leave petroleum and LPG in the ground. Full recovery of natgas as a substitute for petroleum would entail massive storage and ever longer storage times in cryogenic containers, massive pipeline costs (note that your hottest frack oil and gas plays such as Niobrara are proximate to exiting wells and distribution)I find no evidence that gas fracking is fundamentally different from oil fracking in terms of yield v expense, except that the latter can involve some gravity drainage processes, for an edge in extraction.

Refinery operation already encompasses the principles of GTL. I would argue that the synergies can be improved.

Notwithstanding, its up to consumers at the residential level to decide whether they would prefer filling up in their garage with gas to effectively buying that gas remanufactured as a liquid. Maybe the greatest environmental crime is not to substitute electricity for gas as residential heating or cooking energy.

Engineer-Poet

What's the cost of DOUBLING the raw feedstock consumption for the same energy delivery at the wheels?

As I said, I can see GTL for stranded gas.  But for powering cars and trucks, piped-in gas (either compressed or liquefied) is far cheaper and vastly more efficient, both in $/gge and in carbon emissions per GJ delivered.

Roger Pham

The only sensible GTL process is to produce synthetic motor oil as lubricants out of NG to replace all petroleum oil used as lubricant today, the latter should be banned for causing harms to engines and subsequently causing fuel wastage and emission of harmful oil particles into the air. Furthermore, once the piston ring is worn and oil consumption ensues, the catalytic converter's will be compromised. Its life will shorten and will emit more harmful emissions before it finally dies.

So, please ban all petroleum oil as lubricant, to be replaced by synthetic oil made from NG, for environmental purposes. Please leave NG alone to run big trucks via CNG or LNG for not only the sakes of doubling the efficiency vs. the GTL process, but also for environmental cleanliness.

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