Company set to build plant for liquid hydrocarbon conversion

A Scottish company is to build a demonstrator reactor plant for converting natural gas into liquid hydrocarbons.

Gas2 has secured £5.5m of funding to develop its proprietary technology based on catalytic ceramic porous membranes (pMR).

‘Around half of the world’s natural gas is economically stranded, so there’s a huge reserve that’s not been developed for various reasons,’ Mike Fleming, managing director of Gas2 told The Engineer.

‘One is clearly that the price of gas is low and the price of liquid hydrocarbons is high, and the main driver behind that, of course, is that liquid fuel is transportation fuel so it commands a premium in the market.’

Gas-to-liquid (GTL) conversion is essentially a two-step process: the first produces synthetic gas (syngas) from a combination of natural gas and oxygenate, while the second uses the Fischer-Tropsch process to convert this into liquid fuel. This is currently only done at very large scale at dedicated refineries, for example, at Shell’s Pearl GTL facility in Qatar.

‘There’s a drive to bring in new technologies to address the medium and lower end of the segment — smaller deposits of gas — where the traditional technologies cannot really get down that low, techno-economically,’ said Fleming.

‘So how can we do this differently to get the capital and operational costs down and the efficiencies up to shift the paradigm?’

Gas2 will deploy its technology at a 0.4-acre site at the Wilton Centre for petrochemical research in Cleveland in the North-East of England.

‘We’ve proven it up as far as we can in the laboratory with thousands of experiments, we’ve run all of the computer-based modelling we can to predict its performance at a larger scale,’ said Fleming, adding that the plan now is to produce up to three barrels of synthetic crude oil per day using an input of ‘mock’ natural gas.