Skip to comments.Swiss firm shows plan to turn natural gas into gasoline
Posted on 05/02/2011 5:24:23 AM PDT by thackney
With an increasing air of pessimism around the prospects for a pipeline to export natural gas from the North Slope, there is talk of alternatives for monetizing the vast quantities of gas stranded in Arctic Alaska.
One alternative was discussed by Deo van Wijk, chairman of Swiss company Janus Methanol AG, before the state House Resources Committee. Van Wijk described the use of natural gas to synthetically produce gasoline for export from Valdez.
Gasoline production would involve two stages: production of methanol from natural gas on the North Slope, and production of gasoline from the methanol in Valdez. Methanol produced on the Slope would be blended with crude oil for transportation through the trans-Alaska oil pipeline to Valdez, where it would be distilled out of the oil for processing into gasoline.
In addition to providing a market outlet for North Slope gas, the proposal would boost the volumes of fluid flowing down the trans-Alaska pipeline. Because methanol is an excellent antifreeze, the mix would help prevent problems with ice forming in the line, van Wijk said.
The processes involved are already in commercial operation in several parts of the world, van Wijk said. Economies of scale require gas supplies of at least 640 million cubic feet a day, he said.
The two-stage process of manufacturing gasoline from natural gas is an alternative to the perhaps more familiar gas-to-liquids, or GTL, process, in which natural gas is converted to a fluid very similar to diesel fuel. But GTL produces wax as a byproduct, and wax can cause problems with pipeline clogging, van Wijk said.
Exxon originally developed the process, known as MTG, and successfully constructed an MTG plant in New Zealand in the 1980s, van Wijk said. However, falling oil prices in the 1990s rendered that plant uneconomic...
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Next thing will be the Swiss developing a cheese with holes in it!
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“Such a massive plant would likely take 15-18 years to complete, he said”
The 15~18 year comment was based upon:
“ If the entire 4.5 billion cubic feet a day of North Slope gas... were instead to be converted into gasoline, it would result in gasoline production of 450,000 barrels a day.”
Why not just use nat gas as a motor fuel ?
And there is an Alaskan Pipeline that has surplus capacity along with an expected growing production of the heavy oil. The methanol would help thin the heavy oil and make pumping easier.
Too difficult to transport, store, and refuel a car with natural gas. CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) has its supporters, but it is very low energy density compared to liquid gasoline, so your range is severely limited. Having to compress it to a very high PSI makes it slow to refuel.
It is used in some fleet vehicles, but not something that grandma can do herself at the filling station.
Nobody likes to carry a tank pressurized to 5k-6k lbs pressure. CNG works fine, but there is always the "bomb" factor. LNG has the temp problem also. If we are going "green with solar and wind, use that juice to make the gasoline from coal and nat gas to save money. If we could cure the fuel problem for 200-300 years, we must use coal and NG and whatever the cost would be better than depending on the ME for fuel. Having a stable cost and supply for fuel would trump any costs involved over the long haul.
Because even when pressurized to 3600 psi, the storage energy per unit of volume is roughly 1/3 that of gasoline. Heavy, dangerous high pressure tanks, short driving range.
You can only get that BTU comparison by chilling Natural Gas it to -260° F and turning it into a liquid. The BTUs of compressed natural gas varies by how much you compress it.
Using the Gasoline Gallon Equivalent (GGE), you need .5 cu. ft. of CNG at 3,600 PSI to equal one gallon of gasoline. So to replace an 18 gallon gasoline tank, you need to store 36 cubic feet of CNG at 3,600 PSI.
Correct. It can work OK for fleet vehicles that return to a central depot where they can be refueled frequently, but becomes inconvenient for regular folk used to having some real range / time between refueling stops.
The average person has trouble filling their tires with 35 pounds of air pressure.
You really want that same person filling their fuel tank with 3600 pounds of explosives?
You should be able to tank replace like you do for your Gas grill!!!
That would require your the car to be designed for CNG replacement tank
Gasoline’s not explosive ?
This makes my point. Commuting, ten-20 miles daily, with a fill connection to nat gas at home (where homes have natural gas.)
Gasoline is flammable, not explosive, furthermore, it’s comes out of the nozzle at only a couple of pounds pressure, not 3600 psi.
It is a long way from 1/4 psi (delivery pressure into most homes) to 3600 psi. I should take some time and calculate the energy input required for compression, and see if it is at all comparable to the energy content of the natural gas.
What is the flash point of gasoline ?
Does that help?
Yes you should.
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I don’t think that the flashpoint illustrates the issue very well, nevertheless gasoline has a flashpoint of -43 F.
By way of comparison, propane, which is much safer to handle than natural gas, has a flashpoint of -156 F.
Imagine this: carry a open can of gasoline out on your patio. Then, take the cylinder of propane (something many times safer than liquid natural gas) and open the valve.
One of those will vaporize slowly in the sun, and, if in an enclosed sapce may even cause an explosion when lit. The other is so dangerous that to even get close to to it when light the venting may very well prove deadly, even in an open space.
Taking a WAG, liquified natural gas is 100, or even a 1,000 times as dangerous as either gasoline or propane.
Very interesting, even exciting.
I have been on the engineering design team for propane and natural gas facilities, including compression up to 5,000 psi.
You are very mistaken about propane versus natural gas safety. The National Fire Protection Agency writes codes that are used by the industry. In my career, I have had to read and utilize many of these codes.
Propane is far more dangerous. Most of that danger is created by being heavier than air. A leak in a methane system quickly rises ups and dissipates. Propane leaks puddle up and can create ignitable sources.
Thanks, I’m seeing that I need to reconsider.
Methane requires 5% before it become ignitable. It may seem like a small difference. However, with a small leak that is difficult to discover, the propane is accumulating and the methane is dissipating.
I'm not trying to suggest that propane in vehicle sized fuel containers is too dangerous to use. I'm trying to suggest that methane is even safer than the propane we are already used to handling.
The pressure required for CNG has reason for safety precautions and strict design requirements. But it is no different than systems we commonly used for acetylene welding, a far more dangerous gas.
It’s my experience with acetylene, LP, and gasoline since a young boy that formed my opinions.
Thanks for the posts, I appreciate hearing from someone close to the subject at hand.
There isn’t enough information there to make a determination about compression energy required vs. compressed gas produced.
That looks like it was put together by a marketer, and not an engineer.
But I have done several industrial compressed storage facilities, compressing for storage above 3,000 psi. We don't get close to a tenth of the value of the gas.
The first reading through the NFPA propane codes made me nervous. The section of fire fighting dealt strongly with first knowing if you should leave or fight the fire. That is good advice for any oil/gas industrial complex fire, but the strong descriptions of how fast and how large a fire ball could be created was unlike any of the other codes. The only thing I remember close to it was a boil-over event of floating roof tanks. But those were still an order of magnitude smaller, in my opinion.
Propane puddles when spilled. Nat gas is lighter than air, thus is the safer product.