Compact Reformer and GTL Technologies
Davy Process Technology and BP have worked closely together to demonstrate the commercial design for a compact reforming process based on a concept first tested in the early 1990s by BP Amoco. The Compact Reformer is different to a conventional reformer in that the primary heat transfer mechanism is convection rather than radiation. At the same time this device significantly increases process intensity. The Compact Reformer is a preassembled modular devise that is less than a quarter of the weight and size of a conventional reformer.
Converting natural gas to liquid fuels is an attractive prospect, particularly where the gas resource is effectively stranded in a remote location, making the conventional routes to market, by long distance pipeline or conversion to liquefied natural gas (LNG) for shipment by sea, uneconomic. The Fischer Tropsch process for converting methane containing gas to waxy paraffins and liquid fuel was discovered in the 1920s. However, it is only much more recently that political, oil and gas market and environmental issues have brought this process to the attention of the international petroleum industry.
The gas to liquids (GTL) process comprises three main process steps, firstly the reforming of natural gas to synthesis gas, a mixture of gases containing hydrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and unreacted methane, secondly the Fischer Tropsch (FT) conversion of carbon monoxide and hydrogen to long chain hydrocarbons and thirdly the upgrading and refining of these hydrocarbons into a specific state of liquid fuels.
As the pressure of increasing demand has its effect on the world oil market, the attractiveness of using gas for purposes other than power generation is enhanced. With an estimated 6000 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves in the world, of which about one third is considered to be stranded and not readily transported by pipeline or converted to LNG, the interest in converting gas to liquid fuels through the GTL process continues to increase.
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