Synfuels International has developed an alternative to the syngas/Fischer-Tropsch methodology of natural gas conversion with a patented and proven process that significantly reduces capital and process costs. The Synfuels technology is a GTL process that will produce similar or superior end products at a cost below competitive conventional technology. Since its inception in 1998, Synfuels has made significant progress, proving the Synfuels process works with the production of 95 octane fuel from natural gas in a pilot demonstration plant. The success of initial tests have generated worldwide interest resulting in our first fully operational demonstration plant operating for the benefit of gathering data for the construction of an economical and energy efficient commercial GTL plant.

The New Synfuels GTL Technology

Refinements to existing Fischer-Tropsch processes are not likely to provide the order of magnitude change in economics needed to overcome the obstacles of inefficiency and high capital cost. GTL plants must be economical on a stand-alone basis at a much smaller scale than the mega-plants in order to facilitate a broader and faster commercialization by making it possible for liquid fuel to be marketed from the great multitude of stranded and associated gas fields. Smaller plants need smaller fields and require much less capital, allowing more companies and entities to participate. The new Synfuels GTL technology accomplishes these goals. It is a radically new process that achieves better investment returns than the mega-plants at a fraction of their capacity and capital requirements. There are thousands of gas fields capable of supporting a Synfuels GTL plant.

The process to produce a gasoline product from a natural gas feed consists of four main steps - conversion, absorption, hydrogenation and oligomerization. The diagram shows the major constituents in the feeds and products of each step. Depending on plant operating conditions and specific equipment utilized, the relative amounts of the intermediate stream constituents will vary, as will the resulting products and by-products.

The key to the new Synfuels technology is the segregation and conversion step where acetylene is separated from other constituents of the cracker effluent and hydrogenated to ethylene using catalysts developed by Synfuels. The second processing step in the Synfuels Process is absorption of the acetylene from the cracked gas using a solvent selective to acetylene. The absorption process has also been used in the acetylene industry for decades.

Variations of the absorption abound within industries with each practitioner having its own solvent, operating conditions, and equipment configuration and design. Temperatures range between approximately 70 degrees F to about 120 degrees F. Column pressures typically range from 100 psig to 250 psig.

The heart of the Synfuels technology lies in the third processing step - acetylene hydrogenation. Gas-phase hydrogenation of acetylene into ethylene is truly commonplace, particularly in ethylene production units. The novel invention used here is conducting the reaction in the liquid-phase. In the liquid-phase process, acetylene-rich solvent from the absorption step is fed into a catalytic reactor along with a hydrogen source the acetylene can be completely converted with 98% selectivity to ethylene. The reactor typically operates between 100 psig and 300 psig at temperatures between 200 degrees F and 350 degrees F. The liquid is easily separated from the product gases, cooled, and recycled to the absorption column. The resultant product gas comprises mostly ethylene.

Synfuels technology produces gasoline blendstock. Our proprietary cracker has been thoroughly tested with excellent results.

Advantages Over Fischer-Tropsch Process

  1. 1. Majority of stranded gas fields can be utilized.
  2. 2. Synfuels GTL process dramatically reduces capital costs.
  3. 3. Plants can be configured to produce a variety of products, such as gasoline blendstock, ethylene and acetylene.
  4. 4. Keys to the Synfuels process are the innovative and patented steps that isolate and convert the desired intermediates while reducing recycle, compression and system volumes.
  5. 5. Synfuels liquid-phase hydrogenation is the technology cornerstone.
Blockflow Diagram GTL Animation in Flash

Domestic Gas Application

The Synfuels GTL process was originally focused on reducing widespread flaring of associated gas and economically bringing to market stranded gas hundreds of miles from the nearest pipeline. At the time, gas prices were climbing in North America and global oil exploration was unable to meet the worldwide energy demand that was causing oil prices to skyrocket, ensuring a growing need to process associated gas. Applications for Synfuels GTL technology was limited to remote places in Africa, Asia and South America because the gas had no value locally and it was priced considerable lower than in industrialized areas. Then starting in 2010, fracing grew widely popular in North America as a method to produce natural gas found in numerous closely associated pockets. Gas production swelled and even the low gas prices produced by the recent recession fell further. North American natural gas prices in the teens in 2008 have fallen dramatically and are expected to stay within the $2 to $3 range over the next decade due to the abundance of natural gas exploitable by the fracing technique. Low gas prices in North America have even engendered interest in exporting LNG. A few years ago, LNG import terminals were constructed across North America in response to a dwindling domestic natural gas supply. Now, with the rise of unconventional gas production in North America, many of these terminals are trying to convert to export terminals, including the Sabine Pass and Freeport LNG terminals on the US Gulf Coast.1

This new climate of abundant, long term, reduced cost natural gas gives Synfuels’ process a clear production and profit advantage. The Synfuels GTL technology creates high quality high octane gasoline blendstock from natural gas, whether lean or rich. In contrast to the group of Fischer Tropsch technologies, which makes a product that is a blend of gas, liquid and wax, the Synfuels GTL product is only gasoline range material. A chart of the Internal Rate of Return (IRR) follows for a typical 100 MMSCFD GTL Plant with respect to gas price.2

1 Oil and Gas Journal, Pennwell Publishing, February 6, 2012, p.87.
2 Additional factors that apply are: natural is 100% methane, gasoline blendstock sales price is $2.50, plant capital cost is $258 Million, escalation and contingency are each 15%, License and Royalty are included, plant produces its own energy from waste gases, operational availability is 95%, US Gulf Coast Construction and Operating Costs, plant life of 20 years and 3 year term for design and construction.

This presentation shows that reasonable returns can be achieved from a relatively small Synfuels GTL plant.
Diagram of Plant Facility