Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gas to Liquids: Carbon Sciences Provides Alternative to Shell & Sasol

A typical GTL plant consists of three core components: 1) syngas generation, which converts natural gas into syngas, 2) Fischer-Tropsch processing, which converts syngas into hydrocarbons, and 3) liquid fuels upgrading, which converts hydrocarbons to liquid fuels such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. It is generally accepted in the industry that the syngas portion of a GTL plant is the most expensive.

Carbon Sciences' proprietary catalyst technology is aimed at reducing the cost of syngas production by eliminating the expensive requirements for oxygen and steam. Instead, the company's syngas technology uses freely available carbon dioxide to react with natural gas. To provide a complete GTL technology solution, Carbon Sciences will integrate its proprietary syngas technology with Fischer-Tropsch technology and liquid fuels upgrading technology licensed from other companies to deliver an end-to-end GTL plant design. This complete solution will be available for licensing to the natural gas industry for use in small to medium size GTL plants. Carbon Sciences will begin the commercial process by offering pre-feasibility and feasibility study services. _MSNBusiness_Marketwire
Shell Qatar Pearl Plant

The huge price spread between crude oil and natural gas opens a vast opportunity for gas-to-liquids producers to make billions in quick profits. The Shell Pearl GTL plant in Qatar is slated to earn $6 billion in profits every year! But that is a very large and expensive GTL plant.
Mini GTL Plant from GasTechno

Various schemes for scaling down the GTL process have come from Oxford Catalysts, GasTechno, and now from Carbon Sciences. These smaller scale GTL production plants will allow a lot of options for profitable GTL production for smaller scale operators.
Carbon Sciences GTL Scheme

The commercial viability of GTL technology has been proven by some of the largest oil & gas companies in the world. After investing $19 billion in a world scale GTL plant in the State of Qatar and creating more than 52,000 jobs, Royal Dutch Shell announced the first commercial shipment of GTL fuel products on June 13, 2011. Named Pearl GTL, the plant is capable of producing 260,000 barrels per day of oil equivalent products using only natural gas instead of crude oil. According to Shell, Pearl GTL will produce enough liquid fuels to fill over 160,000 cars a day and enough synthetic base oil each year to make lubricants for more than 225 million cars.

More recently in September 2011, Sasol, the South African energy and chemical giant, announced plans to build the first United States GTL plant in Louisiana to produce GTL transportation fuels and other products. The Sasol project is expected to cost $10 billion and will create over 5,000 new high-paying direct and indirect jobs.

Byron Elton, CEO of Carbon Sciences, commented, "The days of cheap, easy oil have passed, and the era of natural gas is upon us. We recently attended the annual GTL conference in London to meet with industry colleagues and congratulate Shell on its history making GTL success. The consensus at the conference was that oil prices will remain strong and natural gas prices are expected to remain low, leading to a lucrative future for gas to liquids technology. Forecasts show that total recoverable global natural gas resources will last over 250 years. Shell, Sasol and others in our industry have proven the economics of GTL technology that will free us from crude oil by tapping into the vast reserves of natural gas to power the needs of the world." _MSN Business Marketwire
While Mr. Elton may not understand all the mechanisms of inflated oil price which have presented his company with a golden opportunity, he is quite correct to predict a continuing price spread between oil and natural gas -- for at least the near to intermediate future.

Carbon Sciences website describes their breakthrough technology

More news on Sasol, another large GTL contender



Blogger Augustus Van Dusen said...

Do you know of any studies that have computed the cost per mile of driving a car converted to run on compressed natural gas to one running on gasoline that has been produced from natural gas?

1:25 PM  
Blogger al fin said...

I cannot help but imagine the Los Angeles freeways, with miles of cars lined up in every imaginable direction, bumper to bumper, fuel tanks pumped full of compressed natural gas.

Like long chains of daisy cutter bombs waiting for a single detonator to set them all off -- miles of them.

Not like gasoline or liquid fuels at all, since vapour explodes, while liquid fuels burn.

Cost seems almost secondary when imagining such a scene.

7:01 PM  
Blogger Hell_Is_Like_Newark said...

Way back in college, I worked on a design project to convert small gasoline engines (think lawnmowers) to run on natural gas. The idea was to "reduce emissions".

Some preliminary research I discovered the opposite was true:

1. Natural gas requires more energy to 'crack' than regular gasoline. So natural gas engines tend to produce more non combusted hydrocarbons when compared to a modern gasoline engine.

2. The higher spark temperature required produced more NOx, which increases smog.

To avoid these pollutions problem, techniques such as lean burn and / or recycling part of the exhaust back into the combustion chamber is employed.

The result is reduced engine performance.

Turning methane into liquid fuels that can be used WITHOUT any special modifications to the existing vehicle fleet is far more desirable...

6:10 AM  
Blogger al fin said...

Thanks for the information, HILN.

In addition, I should mention that the $trillion dollar existing infrastructure for distribution and sales of liquid fuels could not be reproduced cheaply, for the provision of compressed natural gas on every street corner.

The scalable GTL technologies are likely to become very useful, once Mr. Obama's energy starvation regime has been disposed of.

10:12 AM  
Blogger OriginalLeisure said...

Very informative article. Baard Energy has some interesting gas to liquid projects in the works. Take a look at their webpage to learn more.

3:34 PM  

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