Monday, May 02, 2011

Methane to Methanol to Gasoline at Competitive Prices


Methane to methanol to gasoline for $2.85 a gallon, including a healthy $1.45 margin? That is what is being claimed for a combined "Gigamethanol" and MTG (methanol to gasoline) plant proposed for Alaska. Converting all the North Slope gas to gasoline could produce almost 500,000 barrels per day.
... a plant would produce methanol from natural gas on the North Slope using the proposed GigaMethanol technology. The resulting methanol would be blended with crude and transported via the trans-Alaska oil pipeline to Valdez, where it would be extracted from the oil and processed via Methanol-to-Gasoline technology into gasoline.

In January, ICIS reported that Eastman Chemical reached an agreement to sell a mothballed Texas methanol and ammonia plant to Pandora Methanol, a subsidiary of Janus Methanol.

The plant will have a capacity of 850,000 tonnes/year of methanol and 250,000 tonnes/year of ammonia, according to van Wijk. ...Van Wijk at the time said the new plant might consider the methanol-to-gasoline MTG process pioneered by ExxonMobil.
Eastman originally bought the plant in 2007 for a $1.6-billion coal-gasification project, but called off the project in late 2009 due to high capital requirements, the narrow difference between petroleum and natural gas prices and uncertain US energy policy....

Costs for a 63,000 barrel (of gasoline) per day system would be approximately $5.2 billion, he said. Gasoline could be delivered from Valdez at $2.65 to $2.85 per gallon, including a $1.45 margin.

In addition to providing a market for North Slope gas, the mix of methanol in the pipeline flow would help prevent problems with ice forming in the line, van Wijk, a former Methanex executive, suggested. If the entire daily output of North Slope gas (4.5 billion cubic feet, bcf) were converted to gasoline, it would produce 450,000 barrels per day, he suggested. _GCC

This is a different approach from the Oxford Catalysts and Sasol approaches. But the claims for efficiency and economic viability are difficult to beat, if true.

While the proposal is meant to take advantage of Alaskan natural gas, the same approach could conceivably be taken with shale gas or any other large gas deposits located anywhere.

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