Tiny Microchannel Fischer-Tropsch Reactor Can Make 6 BPD!
While several R&D groups around the world have shown the potential of microchannel reactors for process intensification, only Velocys has been successful in developing the technology for industrial scale applications. This effort, begun in 1998, spanned several key scale-up steps, and recently culminated in fabricating the manufacturing test device shown in Figure 6. If operated, this reactor would have a nominal capacity of 1,000 liters/day or 6 barrels/day (bpd). _VelocysPDF
There are commercially operating oil wells which produce less than 6 barrels per day. For a tiny microchannel F-T reactor to produce that amount is remarkable. Learn more about Velocys' technology from their PDF white paper.
More: The Velocys microchannel F-T reactors can convert natural gas to liquid fuel on virtually any scale. Given that 5% of the world's natural gas production is flared (via GCC) -- burned or released into the atmosphere -- there is a lot of profit waiting to be made through such a device. Approximately 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent worldwide per year, potentially.
Microchannel design is hitting theoretical engineering like a freight train, and is beginning to impact commercial design and development as well -- for a wide array of applications. The scalability of the microchannel approach should cause most persons to eventually see industrial and power plants in a much friendlier way.
A microreactor or microstructured reactor or microchannel reactor is a device in which chemical reactions take place in a confinement with typical lateral dimensions below 1 mm; the most typical form of such confinement are microchannels. Microreactors are studied in the field of micro process engineering, together with other devices (such as micro heat exchangers) in which physical processes occur. The microreactor is usually a continuous flow reactor (contrast with/to a batch reactor). Microreactors offer many advantages over conventional scale reactors, including vast improvements in energy efficiency, reaction speed and yield, safety, reliability, scalability, on-site/on-demand production, and a much finer degree of process control. _WikiOregon State University engineers have developed a surface mount adhesive that will allow for much cheaper and speedier assembly of low to medium temperature microchannel reactors than previously possible.
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, are developing a continuous process microchannel reactor for scalable polymer synthesis.
One use of microchannel heat exchangers already in use is the microchannel cooling system for computer processors. Microchannel designs allow for particularly efficient heat exchange -- which can be utilised for powering chemical reactions such as Fischer Tropsch, or for more mundane cooling purposes.
Other uses for microchannel reactors include high throughput analysis of samples, the experimental emulation of enzyme systems and living tissue systems, and a combination of synthesis, purification, and analysis of product in a single package. More practical uses of this technology are on the way.