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Posted: February 3, 2009
Nanocatalyst Process Produces Synfuels at Lower Costs
(Nanowerk News) Energix Research, Inc. has
successfully produced liquid fuels from natural gas with a process that is
more efficient -- ultimately reducing capital cost and enabling mobility.
Energix Research's (http://www.EnergixResearch.com) tests indicate that its
technology enables the entire gas-to-liquids (GTL) process to consume a lower
percentage of the energy in the gas source and, due to the lower capital
costs, the overall cost of production can be very competitive with
conventional, large scale refineries which produce these fuels from crude oil.
Energix expects to develop affordable, micro GTL plants to monetize
underutilized resources, such as abandoned natural gas fields, coal bed
methane (CBM) fields, flared gases, etc.
"We believe our process can affordably produce 50 to 200 tons per day of
methanol, gasoline, diesel or di-methyl ether (DME -- a clean burning fuel
substitute for LPG) with truck-mounted units using methane derived from biogas
sources, such as landfills. Another source would be abandoned gas wells with
very small reserves, which currently are not viable due to the inability to
economically transport the fuel from the site," said Mr. Juzer Jangbarwala,
CEO of Energix Research, Inc. "We will first focus on producing methanol and
DME. Our vision is to eliminate the carbon footprint associated with the
transport of fuel or other hydrocarbon chemical products such as solvents and
alcohols. By producing high energy, low-emission GTL on site from existing
gas sources that are often wasted, countries can reduce their dependence on
foreign hydrocarbons and eliminate the carbon footprint associated with the
transport of those products."
Energix Research executed the GTL process via the syngas and Fischer-
Tropsch synthesis route at a high conversion rate (87%) and selectivity rate
(99%) using its patent-pending, electrically activated nanocatalyst process.
Energix Research's proprietary process uses local electronic excitation to the
catalyst, using conductive nanofibers and nano catalysts and applies a low
level DC current to them. This technique reduces the required bulk feed gas
temperatures to less than 50% of conventional processes, as the energy of
reaction and activation of catalyst is provided directly where it is needed to
create very narrowly targeted reactions with high selectivity and yields. The
lower bulk gas temperature reduces the capital costs typically associated with
exotic metals and energy recovery equipment in GTL refineries while increasing
energy efficiency -- ultimately making Energix's micro GTL and other chemical
plants extremely affordable.
The energy industry has long sought a low-cost GTL process to enable
energy transport from abandoned natural gas fields as a liquid. Existing
processes consume more than half of the energy contained in the input gas and
had to be done on a large scale with costly energy recovery equipment, making
them more expensive than refining from crude oil, and are therefore not
It is estimated that 3,000 tcf, approximately half of all worldwide
natural gas resources, are considered remote or stranded in so called
abandoned wells or wells with reserves that are not economically accessible to
markets by either pipelines or LNG. Energix believes that much of this gas
could be utilized if there were an economical or easily moveable GTL
production facility such as the one it is currently developing.
Natural gas, specifically methane, is flared off in large volumes at
landfills (studies estimate 3.5 tcf/year worldwide), and oil production sites
offshore, where it is produced as "associated gas" with the oil. A GTL plant
at landfills would produce an extremely valuable high-grade fuel from gas that
is currently being flared, thus eliminating the resulting emissions. Offshore
GTL plants would allow the gas to be recovered as liquid and blended with the
crude being shipped to shore, enhancing the crude's quality.
The GTL process is the second process Energix Research is commercializing.
Energix has successfully applied its proprietary process to produce hydrogen
at very high conversion rates (>98%) and low capital costs ($200,000 for a
50nM3/hr plant) from various hydrocarbon feeds. Using the distributed
generation philosophy, the technology has been tested to produce hydrogen at
micro capacities with the same production cost of very large hydrogen
generation plants, thus eliminating the need for transportation of hydrogen.
Extensive reliability tests have been completed, and a 5KW on-site generator
based on steam reforming of methanol for use with a fuel cell back-up power
supply for the telecommunications industry will be launched later in 2009. The
direct cost of producing electricity with this generator will be less than
US$0.10 per KWH.