Thursday, June 09, 2011

Bringing Fischer Tropsch into the 21st Century

The Fischer–Tropsch process involves a series of chemical reactions that lead to a variety of hydrocarbons. Useful reactions give alkanes:

(2n+1) H2 + n CO → CnH(2n+2) + n H2O

where 'n' is a positive integer. The formation of methane (n = 1) is generally unwanted. Most of the alkanes produced tend to be straight-chain alkanes, although some branched alkanes are also formed. In addition to alkane formation, competing reactions result in the formation of alkenes, as well as alcohols and other oxygenated hydrocarbons. Usually, only relatively small quantities of these non-alkane products are formed, although catalysts favoring some of these products have been developed. _Wikipedia
hte AG Heidelberg is collaborating with BP to improve efficiency and yields for Fischer Tropsch (F-T) catalysts and processes. F-T catalytic synthesis takes syngas from several different sources and converts it to synthetic fuels, lubricants, and other valuable chemicals. The process was invented in Germany in the 1920s and has been tweaked and modified ever since in attempts to improve throughput and quality of product, as well as the economic bottom line.

As demand for hydrocarbons grows due to rising global populations and the industrialisation of emerging nations, more interest is being shown in F-T and similar catalytic synthesis approaches to making hydrocarbons. The higher the price of petroleum, the greater the interest in F-T will grow.
The BP Conversion Technology Centre is continuing to work with hte in the field of Fischer-Tropsch catalysis and process. The Fischer-Tropsch process is used to convert syngas into synthetic fuels and lubricants, and due to the global resources situation is currently gaining importance. Syngas itself can be formed from gaseous or solid carbon sources such as natural gas, coal or biomass.

hte has provided in-house developed testing capacities as well as an experienced project team. Over the period of the collaboration, hte’s technology platform has been continuously refined and advanced for the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis reaction allowing BP to perform a large number of rapid and precise data measurements in support of catalyst and process scale-up. Used systematically this data rapidly generates information on reaction kinetics, the fundamentals of start-up and activation and the impact of key process parameters. This builds confidence in BP’s implementation of their FT technology across a variety of potential applications and feedstocks.

...BP and hte are now set to extend their successful cooperation in the field of Fischer-Tropsch for another year. Dirk Demuth, CEO at hte, is encouraged by this successful cooperation, commenting:
"We are delighted to continue working as a reliable partner to BP. From a strategic perspective, performing catalyst quality control and process optimisation for our customers is becoming increasingly important to us. hte will continue to add value to the BP Fischer-Tropsch project through its high-profile scientific team and its leading technology platform "
_hte AG Heidelberg
h/t GreenCarCongress

The BP / hte collaboration is one of many projects into synthetic fuels being spurred by current high oil prices and geopolitical instability -- particularly in oil dictatorships.

Fischer Tropsch Archives -- a large collection of documents dealing with F-T and related processes



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