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Comment Processing & Handling

A new catalyst promises to cut the cost of the Fischer-Tropsch process

By Gerald Parkinson |

When coal-derived synthesis gas (syngas) is converted to liquid fuel by the Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) process, the initial product is mostly straight-chain waxy paraffins that can be upgraded by hydroprocessing to obtain diesel fuel and naphtha, which are used for gasoline blending. Only about 16% of the F-T plant output falls directly into the naphtha range, according to TDA Research Inc. (Wheat Ridge, Colo.; www.tda.com). TDA is developing a new F-T catalyst that has achieved 68% selectivity in the naphtha range in bench-scale tests, says Ambalavanan Jayaraman, a senior engineer with TDA. The main advantage is a reduction in the number of process steps, which is expected to cut the cost of liquid fuels production by about $4/bbl from those of conventional F-T processes. F-T conversion typically employs a cobalt-based catalyst in a slurry-phase or fixed-bed reactor. TDA’s process uses a site-selective catalyst of transition metals that controls the hydrocarbon chain length to the naphtha range. Jayaraman says the process conditions are similar to those of conventional F-T reactors: 250–350°C and 300–500 psig. The catalyst can be used either in a slurry or a fixed-bed mode, he says, and a commercial plant would probably…
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