Encyclopedia of Sustainability Science and Technology

2012 Edition
| Editors: Robert A. Meyers

Gas to Liquid Technologies

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0851-3_72

Definition of the Subject

Like oil and coal, natural gas is not what first comes to mind when considering sustainable fuel sources. Yet as for other fossil sources, conversion of natural gas to transportation fuel is currently more affordable than conversion of renewable resources such as wind and solar, which are technically far away from availability at even a fraction of the scale required to have significant impact on meeting global demand over the coming decades. Given that global proved natural gas reserves are currently estimated as capable of producing more than 1,100 billion equivalent barrels of oil (the energy equivalent of 42 cubic miles of oil) [1], natural gas is a key contributor when considering a sustainable global fuel supply.

The term “gas to liquids” (GTL) is frequently used in reference to the chemical transformation of natural gas to liquid fuels via the Fischer–Tropsch (F-T) technology. In broader usage, the term “GTL” refers to the transformation of natural...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.
    Crane H, Kinderman E, Malhotra R (2010) A cubic mile of oil. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    United States Environmental Protection Agency (1998) Compilation of emission factors AP-42, v1, 5th edn, Supplement DGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    United States Environmental Protection Agency (2010) Compilation of emission factors AP-42, v1, 5th edn, Supplement E, corrected. Calculation for low-sulfur No. 6 fuel oilGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    United States Environmental Protection Agency (1998) Compilation of emission factors AP-42, v1, 5th ed, Supplement E. Calculation for medium volatile bituminous coalGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Rajnauth J, Ayeni K, Barrufet M (2008) Gas transportation: present and future. In: CIPC/SPE Gas Technology Symposium 2008 Joint Conference, Calgary, Alberta, 16–19 June 2008Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bellussi G, Zennaro R (2007) New developments: energy, transport, sustainability. In: Encyclopaedia of Hydrocarbons, vol III, Chap. 2.6, pp. 161–182, EniChemGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Smith R, Asaro M (2005) Fuels of the future: technology intelligence for gas to liquids strategies. SRI Consulting, Menlo ParkGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Yost C, DiNapoli R (2003) Benchmarking study compares LNG plant costs. Oil Gas J 101(15):56–59Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Nielsen R (2001) Fundamentals of mixed refrigerant compared to conventional refrigeration are discussed in “Ethylene Plant Enhancement.” PEP Report 29 G, SRI Consulting, Menlo ParkGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Low WR, Andress D, Houser C (1997) Method of load distribution in a cascaded refrigeration process. US 5611216 to Phillips Petroleum Company, 18 Mar 1997Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Houser C, Yao J, Andress D, Low WR (1997) Efficiency improvement of open-cycle cascaded refrigeration process. US 5669234 to Phillips Petroleum Company, 23 Sept 1997Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Delong BW (1987) Method for cooling normally gaseous material. US 4680041 to Phillips Petroleum Company, 14 July 1987Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Netzer D, Nielsen R (2003) Baseload liquefied natural gas by cascade refrigeration. PEP Review 2003–15, SRI Consulting, Menlo ParkGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Smith R, Asaro M (2005) Fuels of the future: technology intelligence for gas to liquids strategies. SRI Consulting, Menlo ParkGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Huffman GP, Feeley III TJ (2000) Fuel science in the Year 2000: where do we stand, where do we go from here? I: Power generation and related environmental concerns – DOE’s fine particulate and air toxics research program: responding to the environmental challenges to coal-based power production in the 21st century. Preprints of the Division of Fuel Chemistry of the American Chemical Society, 45(1):108–112, 2000 Spring conference of the American Chemical Society, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Topsoe_synthesis_g#6D6FFA1.ashx.pdf. Accessed 2 Apr 2011, reprinted from Hydrocarbon Engineering, 2006Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Christensen TS, Østberg M, Bak Hansen J-H (2001) Process demonstration of autothermal reforming at low steam-to-carbon ratios for production of synthesis gas. In: AIChE Annual Meeting, Reno, 4–9 Nov 2001Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Wesenberg MH (2006) Gas heated steam reformer modelling. PhD thesis, The Norwegian University of Science and TechnologyGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Aasberg-Petersen K, Christensen TS, Charlotte Stub Nielsen CS, Dybkjær I (2003) Recent developments in autothermal reforming and pre-reforming for synthesis gas production in GTL applications. Fuel Process Technol 83(1–3):253–261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Loock S, Ernst WS, Thomsen SG, Jensen MF (2005) Improving carbon efficiency in an auto-thermal methane reforming plant with gas heated heat exchange reforming technology. Paper No. O96-001, 7th World Congress of Chemical Engineering, GlasgowGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Tsuru T, Yamaguchi K, Yoshioka T, Asaeda M (2004) Methane steam reforming by microporous catalytic membrane reactors. AIChE J 50(11):2794–2805CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Carolan MF, Chen CM, Rynders SW (2003) Development of the ceramic membrane ITM syngas/ITM hydrogen process. Fuel Chem Div Preprints 48(1):344Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Robinson ET (S), Sirman J, Apte P, Gui X, Bulicz TR, Corgard D, Hemmings J (2005) Development of OTM syngas process and testing of syngas derived ultra-clean fuels in diesel engines and fuel cells. DE-FC26-01NT41096, Final ReportGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Caro J, Wang H, Noack M, Koelsch P, Kapteijn F, Kannelopolous N, Nolan J (2007) Manufacture of composite membranes and their use for selective partial oxidation reactions of hydrocarbons. EP 1847311 to Universität Hannover, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Dupont V, Ross AB, Knight E, Hanky I, Twigg MV (2008) Production of hydrogen by unmixed steam reforming of methane. Chem Eng Sci 63(11):2966–2979CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
  27. 27.
    Davis BH (2001) Fischer–Tropsch synthesis: current mechanism and futuristic needs. Fuel Process Technol 71:157–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Brady RC III, Pettit R (1981) The chain propagation step. J Amer Chem Soc 1981:287–1289Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Davis BH (2001) Fischer–Tropsch synthesis: current mechanism and futuristic needs. Fuel Process Technol 71:157–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Oukaci R, Singleton AH, Goodwin JG Jr (1999) Comparison of patented Co F–T catalysts using fixed-bed and slurry bubble column reactors. Appl Catal A General 186:129–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Manzer L, Schwarz, S (2002) Fischer–Tropsch processes using catalysts on mesoporous supports. US 2002052289 to Conoco, 2 May 2002Google Scholar
  32. 32.
  33. 33.
    Spath PL, Dayton DC (2003) Preliminary screening – technical and economic assessment of synthesis gas to fuels and chemicals with emphasis on the potential for biomass-derived syngas. NREL/TP-510-34929Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Fisher IA, Bell AT (1998) In situ infrared study of methanol synthesis from H2/CO over Cu/SiO2 and Cu/ZrO2/SiO2. J Catal 178(1):153–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Chinchen GC, Denny PJ, Parker DG, Spencer MS, Whan DA (1987) Mechanism of methanol synthesis from CO2/CO/H2 mixtures over copper/zinc oxide/alumina catalysts: use of 14C-labelled reactants. Appl Catal 30(2):333–338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Grabow LC, Mavrikakis M (2011) Mechanism of methanol synthesis on Cu through CO2 and CO hydrogenation. ACS Catal 1(4):365–384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Tijm PJA, Waller FJ, Brown DM (2001) Methanol technology developments for the new millennium. Appl Catal A General 221:275–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Liu J, Wei R, Zhang Y, Xu R, Li Z (2009) Preparation of Cu/ZnO/Al2O3 catalysts for methanol synthesis by improved two-step coprecipitation method. Gongye Cuihua 17(7):22–25. C.A. 2009:1625358Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Baltes C, Vukojevic S, Schüth F (2008) Correlations between synthesis, precursor, and catalyst structure and activity of a large set of CuO/ZnO/Al2O3 catalysts for methanol synthesis. J Catal 258(2):334–344CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Kaluza S, Behrens M, Schiefenhoevel N, Kniep B, Fischer R, Schloegl R, Muhler M (2011) A novel synthesis route for Cu/ZnO/Al2O3 catalysts used in methanol synthesis: combining continuous consecutive precipitation with continuous aging of the precipitate. ChemCatChem 3(1):189–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Lurgi brochure 0312e_MegaMethanol.pdfGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Smith R, Naqvi S, Asaro M (2008) Fuels of the future: technology intelligence for coal to liquids strategies. SRI Consulting, Menlo ParkGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Lewnard JJ, Hsuing TH, White JF, Brown DM (1990) Single-step synthesis of dimethyl ether in a slurry reactor. Chem Eng Sci 45(8):2753–2741Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Ohno Y, Omiya M (2003) Coal conversion into dimethyl ether as an innovative clean fuel. In: 12th ICCS Coal Conversion in DME, 2–6 Nov 2003Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Haugaard J, Voss B (2001) Process for the synthesis of a methanol/dimethyl ether mixture from synthesis gas. US 6191175 to Haldor Topsøe, 20 Feb 2001Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Naqvi S (2002) Dimethyl ether as alternative. Fuel PEP Report 245, SRI Consulting, Menlo ParkGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Kang S-H, Bae JW, Kim H-S, Dhar GM, Jun K-W (2010) Enhanced catalytic performance for dimethyl ether synthesis from syngas with the addition of Zr or Ga on a Cu − ZnO − Al2O3/γ-Al2O3 bifunctional catalyst. Energy Fuels 24(2):804–810CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Bhatt BL, Schaub E, Heydorn E (1993) Recent developments in slurry reactor technology at the LaPorte Alternative Fuels Development Unit. In: International Technical Conference on Coal Utilization & Fuel Systems, LaPorte, pp 197–208, 26–29 Apr 1993Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Peng X-D, Toseland B, Underwood T (1997) A novel mechanism of catalyst deactivation in liquid phase synthesis gas-to-DME reactions. In: Bartholomew C, Fuentes GH (eds) Catalyst deactivation. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Peng X-D (2002) Catalyst activity maintenance for the liquid phase synthesis gas-to-dimethyl ether process. Part II: Development of aluminum phosphate as the dehydration catalyst for the single-step liquid phase syngas-to-DME process. DOE contract DE-FC22-94PC93052, Final ReportGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Peng X-D (2002) Kinetic understanding of the syngas-to-DME reaction system and its implications to process and economics. DOE Contract DE-FC22-94 PC93052, Topical ReportCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Tijm PJ (2003) Development of alternative fuels and chemicals from synthesis gas. DOE Contract number FC22-95PC93052, Final ReportGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Smith R (2009) Dimethyl ether (DME) from coal. PEP Report 245B, SRI Consulting, Menlo ParkGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Ogawa T, Inoue N, Shikada T, Ohno Y (2003) Direct dimethyl ether synthesis. J Nat Gas Chem 12:219–227Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    The Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism; Orkustofnun/The National Energy Authority, The Innovation Center Iceland; Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.; Mitsubishi Corporation; Hekla hf.; NordicBlueEnergy (2010) A feasibility study report for a DME project in Iceland. IDME Project Feasibility Study – 2009. Accessed 4 Apr 2011Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Pavone T (2003) Jumbo dimethyl ether production process via Toyo technology. PEP Review 2003–9, SRI Consulting, Menlo ParkGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
  58. 58.
    More detailed process design and economics information can be found in Apanel G (1999) Liquid hydrocarbons from synthesis gas. PEP Report 191A, SRI Consulting, Menlo ParkGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Tabak SA, Yurchak S (1990) Conversion of methanol over ZSM-5 to fuels and chemicals. Catal Today 6(3):307–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Spath P, Dayton D (2003) Biopproducts from syngas, Syngas_products.pdf. Accessed 2 Apr 2011Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry (2002) “Ammonia” published online 15 Dec 2006, doi: 10.1002/14356007.a02_143.pub2. Accessed 4 Apr 2011Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Shah J (2007) SAFCO IV: catalyst start-ups in the world’s largest ammonia plant. In: 20th AFA International Annual Technical Conference, Tunisia. 5_03 John_BRIGHTLING_ Johnson Matthey Catalysts_ U.K.pdf. Accessed 4 Apr 2011Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    Xu X, Fu G, Goddard III WA, Periana RA (2004) “Selective oxidation of CH4 to CH3OH using the Catalytica (bpym)PtCl2 catalyst: a theoretical study” in Studies in surface science and catalysis, Natural gas conversion VII. In: Proceedings of the 7th Natural Gas Conversion Symposium, Dalian, vol 147, pp 499–504Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    Zennaro R, Hugues F, Caprani E (2006) The Eni – IFP/Axens GTL technology: from R&D to a successful scale-up. In: DGMK – SCI conference on synthesis gas chemistry, DresdenGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.SRI InternationalMenlo ParkUSA
  2. 2.SRI ConsultingMenlo ParkUSA