Skip to comments.Startup turning natural gas glut into gasoline
Posted on 03/11/2013 11:02:28 AM PDT by thackney
America is awash in natural gas, thanks to the controversial practice of fracking.
Now a San Francisco startup company, Siluria Technologies, has a new way to turn that gas into chemicals, jet fuel and gasoline.
The ability to make liquid fuels from natural gas has existed since the 1920s. But up to now it hasnt been cheap, requiring high heat and pressure to work. Silurias technology needs less heat and less energy and therefore costs less. The company is gearing up to build its first demonstration plant. And it has hired a new chief executive officer with deep experience in the chemical industry to guide Siluria out of the lab and into the marketplace.
Theres going to be this long period of time when we have this excess gas, said Edward Dineen, the new CEO. If you believe that, and I do, then having technologies that give you better options for that gas would make sense.
Dineen most recently served as CEO of LS9, a renewable fuel and chemical company in South San Francisco. He also held executive positions at LyondellBasell Industries and Arco Chemical Co. Siluria has raised $66 million in venture capital to date, from such investors as Bright Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Lux Capital.
Siluria is looking to capitalize on Americas natural gas boom. The process of hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, has unlocked large gas deposits trapped in shale rock beneath Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and other states. Natural gas prices have plunged as a result.
Companies are now trying to build export terminals that could ship the gas abroad in liquid form. But until those terminals materialize, prices will likely stay low.
The company was founded in 2008, spun out of another called Cambrios Technologies Corp. Its 40 employees now operate out of an office in Mission Bay, near UC San Franciscos hive of medical research.
Silurias conversion technology uses chemical catalysts picked by a screening system that can test hundreds of potential catalysts each week. Through a process known as oxidative coupling of methane, the catalysts help combine methane molecules into ethylene. The ethylene molecules can then be strung together in chains to produce gasoline, jet fuel or polymers.
The most common process for making liquid fuels from natural gas or coal, a process known as Fischer-Tropsch, needs temperatures on the order of 600 degrees Fahrenheit. Dineen wont specify the temperature needed for Silurias process, but says it is far lower. It is also less complex, requiring less-specialized equipment.
As a result, Siluria may turn natural gas into a direct competitor with oil. The startups process may be able to make chemicals and fuels at a cost competitive with or lower than the cost of similar products made from crude. The company plans to open a demonstration plant next year, although it has not yet announced a location.
The key challenge for us now is scaling up, Dineen said. This is certainly a technology that has global applications.
Teams Work Uses a Virus to Convert Methane to Ethylene
A power producing gas turbine at say 25% efficiency can produce electricity from natural gas with copious exhaust gas at 900 DEGF.
Plenty of heat for a back end Fischer-Tropsch catalyst.
Yes, but also plenty of heat for an expander or some other use of the “waste heat.”
Keep in mind this is talking about a different process.
They’re more likely to get government interference.
The only ‘Government assistance’ they will get is to stop them from what they are trying to do...............
***** “I definitely wouldn’t invest in these guys unless it was play money” ******
I invested play money in Turkey Guts to Gas and lost Boardwalk and Park Place.
“Dineen most recently served as CEO of LS9, a renewable fuel and chemical company in South San Francisco”
That is all I need to know. Renewable=Subsidy.
Exactly. Case in point, in the early 80's oil recyclers and reclaimers were booming, rolling in the dough, and living the good life. By the mid '80's most of them became industrial metal graveyards and superfund sites.
Most operating crackers have a nameplate capacity in the 3-5 B lb. range per year. That would be a lot of hard working viruses there.
Fischer-Tropsch predates WWII, where the Germans used it.
It has been used by Sasol in South Africa, since the 1950s.
Now this guy promises a pilot plant next year, has raised $66 million.
As a fellow Californians, and not wanting to be too cranky, I wonder if this South San Francisco venture is science or finance?
It doesn’t seem like super high tech, and I would expect the major oil and refining companies would be all over it, if it really makes sense and cents.
I’m all for the use of natural gas. The use of LP gas is used within the U.S. exisiting gasoline powered vehicles are easily converted to use LPG. BTW I heat my home with it. Seems it’s more efficient than fuel oil and a Hell of a lot cheaper.
Japan LNG imports in 2012 ranged from about $15 to $18 per million BTU (MMBTU).
WTI crude oil is about $93/bbl, at 5.8 MMBTU/BBL = $16/MMBTU.
Brent crude at $110/BBL = $19/MMBTU.
So there is a reasonable match in the cost of LNG shipments to Japan, versus the world crude prices.
Now to Natural Gas versus Gasoline in North America.
Natural Gas at the Henry Hub is running about $3.50 per MMBTU.
Gasoline is generally 8 gallons per MMBTU, so at $3.50 a gallon that is $28 per MMBTU
So natural gas is 1/8th the cost of gasoline per MMBTU.
Liguid gasoline is roughly worth 8 times more than natural gas.
This leaves a good amount of margin for a cost-effective NG to Gasoline conversion process here at home.
THIS is also why we need to develop LNG exports, there is a big market for this as well. All in all, exporting LNG and bringing $’s into the US is a good thing.
“Anybody got an idea how this impacts the carbon issue?”
Quit parroting the BS that was fed you in the public doctronazation system and smarten up, CARBON ISN/T AN ISSUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
WTI is the price at land-locked Cushing, Oklahoma. If you bring the same grade oil to the coast, it rises in value about ~$20/barrel. WTI has not represented world prices of light sweet for years. Brent is the new world standard and now trades a higher volume than WTI.
That is what it is now.
That is part of the point, these are the current economic conditions.
I’ve been in the oil business since 1977 so I’ve seen all the booms and busts in natural gas and crude prices for a while...
“I invested play money in Turkey Guts to Gas and lost Boardwalk and Park Place.”
What ever happened to that technology? It looked really promising.
If it can be produced from a heat source of the bio-mass/gasification process that uses bio-mass or garbage then it would be carbon neutral to make the environmental wackos happy.