Oxford Catalysts has developed a catalyst that could make second-generation biofuel production cheaper and greener.
The company’s metal carbide Fischer-Tropsch (FT) catalyst is designed for use in small-scale FT microchannel reactors, which are used to make fuel from biomass.
The catalyst was produced using Oxford Catalysts’ patented organic matrix combustion (OMX) method, which allows crystals to be made of the right size to provide the optimum level of activity in a microchannel reactor.
The FT reaction is a key technology for producing second-generation biofuels from agricultural waste.
Because it takes one ton of biomass to produce one barrel of liquid fuel, small-scale FT reactors are being developed to convert the waste on a distributed basis locally rather than at large collection centres.
Microchannel reactors are potential candidates for this job because they enable more efficient and precise temperature control, leading to higher throughput and conversion. They are also able to dissipate the heat produced from the FT reaction more quickly than conventional systems.
To work efficiently, microchannel reactors require an FT catalyst with a high level of activity in order to boost the conversion rates to an economic level, which is what the new FT catalyst aims to provide.
Following a successful round of testing, Oxford Catalysts has signed a memorandum of understanding with a leading developer of small-scale FT microchannel reactors to deploy the new catalyst in small-scale FT applications, including the conversion of bio-waste or flare-gas into liquid fuels.