Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sundrop's Methanol to Gasoline Plant to Use Exxon Mobil MTG

The methanol-to-gasoline (MTG) process developed by Exxon Mobil doesn't care where the methanol comes from originally. MTG turns methanol into gasoline regardless of the original source -- natural gas, coal, biomass, etc. Economics will dictate whether the overall process can be profitable in the current marketplace -- and business startups had best pay attention to a thorough economic analysis before the first shovelfull of dirt is dug.

Sundrop Fuels Inc. intends to fight the current economic conditions of cheap natural gas and cheap coal, in order to prove a point. Sundrop wants to prove that it can fight the markets and survive, while producing "green gasoline."
Sundrop Fuels will use a multi-phase process to convert sustainable forest waste into a bio-based drop-in gasoline for use in today’s combustion engines. A gasification process converts the forest waste combined with hydrogen from natural gas into a synthesis gas, which will then be converted into methanol and then into gasoline in a fixed bed reactor system via the MTG process.

The MTG process first dehydrates methanol to dimethylether (DME); an equilibrium mixture of methanol, DME and water is then converted to light olefins (C2-C4). A final step synthesizes higher olefins, n/iso-paraffins, aromatics and naphthenes. The shape-selective catalyst limits the synthesis reactions to 10 carbons.

MTG reactor product is separated into gas, raw gasoline and water. Raw gasoline is separated into LPG, light gasoline and heavy gasoline; heavy gasoline is hydro-treated to reduce durene content, then heavy and light gasoline are re-combined into finished MTG gasoline. The result is sulfur-free gasoline with a typical 92 Research Octane.

The gasoline yield represents 38% of the feed, and 87% of the hydrocarbon product. Water (H2O) represents 56% of the feed.

The company’s first facility will also provide an operational platform for Sundrop Fuels to begin field integration of its proprietary RP Reactor radiant particle heat transfer gasification technology. The super-efficient, ultra high-temperature process will drive Sundrop Fuels’ future massive-scale biofuels plants, planned to produce more than 300 million gallons of renewable, drop-in biofuels annually.

Plans are for Sundrop Fuels to achieve a combined production capacity of more than one billion gallons by 2020—a significant percentage of the cellulosic advanced biofuels goal set by the nation’s Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

Significant backing for Sundrop Fuels comes from Chesapeake Energy Corporation, the largest producer of natural gas in northern Louisiana’s Haynesville Shale Field and second-largest producer in the nation. Chesapeake invested $155 million in Sundrop Fuels in mid-2011. The company’s investors also include two of the world’s premier venture capital firms, Oak Investment Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers. _GCC
As we mentioned in an earlier posting, Sundrop will prove much of its technology using natural gas as a feedstock Sundrop will use natural gas to power its gasifiers and as a hydrogen donour -- thus explaining their success at raising capital from Chesapeake Energy Corp. Chesapeake needs to prove that GTL can be profitable -- either using MTG or using Fischer Tropsch to make diesel -- and it needs to help boost as many other uses for natural gas as possible. Chesapeake doesn't care how the gas is used so long as it is profitable.

Sundrop's pragmatic move to the initial use of natural gas for its MTG plant instead of using solar powered gasifiers, demonstrates a certain flexibility that is extremely important, if a "green business" is to stay in business.

First establish a cash flow while proving and perfecting your processes. Then you can branch out.

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