FT microchannel reactor wins award

By | April 26, 2010

Posted May 12, 2010

A Fischer Tropsch microchannel reactor developed by Velocys Inc., combined with a new highly active FT catalyst developed by Oxford Catalysts, was named winner of the CWC World XTL award 2010. The award was presented to CFO of the Oxford Catalysts Group, Susan Robertson, at a dinner on May 11 as part of the CWC 10th Annual World XTL Summit in London.

The reactor can achieve productivities that are orders of magnitude greater than conventional FT reactors, and can operate economically at outputs as low as 500 barrels (21,000 gallons).

The technology makes it possible to produce liquid biofuels from a wide variety of waste feedstocks, including municipal waste in situ, thus avoiding the need to transport large volumes of waste to central processing facilities. A demonstration biofuels plant, which includes the FT microchannel reactor and uses gasified woodchips as a feedstock, is currently being commissioned in Güssing, Austria.

Other microchannel technology applications being developed and demonstrated by Oxford Catalysts include small-scale onshore and offshore gas-to- liquids (GTL) and the intensification of steam methane reforming.

"Our innovation represents a whole new way of looking at the problems associated with the distributed production of new generation biofuels, and the fuels produced offer significant environmental benefits over equivalent products from fossil fuels," said Roy Lipski, CEO the Oxford Catalysts Group.

Alirio Parra, CWC Group Ltd senior associate, said, "This achievement demonstrates that Oxford Catalysts is regarded by its industry peers as an innovative and exciting player in the XTL world and we look forward to hearing of the Group's developments at next year's World XTL Summit."

Microchannel reactors are compact reactors that have channels with diameters in the millimetre range. The small diameter channels dissipate heat more quickly than conventional reactors with larger channel diameters in the 2.5 – 10 cm (1 – 4 inch) range so more active catalysts can be used. Microchannel reactors make it possible to greatly intensify chemical reactions to enable them to occur at rates 10 to 1000 times faster than in conventional systems.

Promising applications for microchannel reactor technology include GTL and the production of next-generation biofuels from a wide variety of waste sources via biomass to liquids (BTL) processes.

The Oxford Catalysts Group is currently working with the Portuguese company SGC Energia (SGCE), to demonstrate and commercialize the Oxford Catalysts Group's FT microchannel reactor for the distributed production of biofuels. It is also working with other partners to demonstrate the application of microchannel GTL for use on offshore platforms and floating production, storage and offloading vessels.

The CWC XTL Award was established in 2006 to celebrate excellence and encourage innovation in the synthetic fuels sectors. This year's award, open to companies of any size involved in the XTL value chain, was designed to honor the company that has contributed most to XTL innovation during the past year. The winner was chose by a panel of leading industry experts from a short list of nominees that also included BioMCN, ENI/IFP/Axens, Oryx GTL, Rentech, Shell and Technip.

Previous winners include Oryx GTL, GTL.F1, and Shell Gas & Power.

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