Monday, November 26, 2012

Fischer-Tropsch and biofuels

In a 26 November 2012 post titled The New Syngas: New catalysts, opportunities for advanced biofuels , Biofuels Digest talks about the Fischer-Tropsch work of the New Zealand government:

it is less well known that the New Zealand government embarked on a unique program of its own. They fostered the building of the Motunui Synthetic Fuels Plant, which opened in 1986 with a goal of converting natural gas to gasoline, via an intermediate conversion steps into syngas and then methanol.

Combined with investments in liquefied petroleum gas and compressed natural gas, New Zealand at one point reduced its dependency on imported oil from 85 percent to under 50 percent. When crude oil prices dropped dramatically in the mid-1990s, the Synfuel plant stopped making gasoline from natural gas for economic reasons.

The bottom line: there’s a known path from syngas to gasoline, that makes sense economically in given price conditions.

As noted in the IPBiz post Sundrop Fuels Inc. to adopt ExxonMobil technology of the 1970s, the technology used in New Zealand was developed by Mobil [then separate from Exxon] and involved funding from the Fossil Energy Program of the USDOE.

The Biofuels Digest post mentioned Primus, of interest to IPBiz because of its location in Hillsborough Township, Somerset County, New Jersey:

Take Primus as an example. “a difference between us and FT,” notes CEO Robert Johnsen, one of the co-founders of Mascoma before moving to Primus last year, “is that we are competitive at 25 million gallon scale. Also, modularization could be an option.”

Last March in New Jersey, Primus announced that it has completed its third round of funding with the recent $12 million investment by IC Green Energy Ltd, the renewable energy arm of Israel Corp. Ltd. This latest investment brings the total of funds raised since 2007 to $40 million.

 Primus already has a pilot test plant in operation at its Hillsborough complex, and the company hopes to break ground in early 2013 on its first commercial plant.

The company says that, at scale, it can produce gasoline at a price competitive with gasoline produced from petroleum at $60-$70 per barrel, based on a scale of 25-27 million gallons for its first commercial plant, and designs for up to four units with a capacity of 100 million gallons.

IPBiz notes that Fischer-Tropsch ["FT"] is about the conversion of CO and hydrogen into molecules containing carbon and hydrogen, such as methanol. Yes, Fischer and Tropsch obtained patents, such as US 1,746,464. IPBiz has discussed Exxon work in the area of Fischer-Tropsch. See
Rationality in patent litigation? Probably not...
which includes the text:

In Johnson & Johnston: Disclosed, Never Claimed, Public Domain, (IPT, p. 44 (May 2002)), LBE wrote

On April 11, [2002] the Associated Press reported that the federal
government has admitted infringing an Exxon Mobil Corp. petroleum patent and agreed to pay the oil company $ 2,583. The AP report noted that Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller said Exxon Mobil had claimed that the patent was worth hundreds of millions of dollars and quoted Miller that the settlement amount, which was disclosed by the government but not by Exxon Mobil, "speaks for itself." The litigation was reported at 54 USPQ2d 1519 (Ct. Cl. 2000), reversed by the Federal Circuit at 265 F.3d 1371, 60 USPQ2d 1272 (CAFC 2001). n7


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