Saturday, August 29, 2009

What is Fischer-Tropsch?

I had time to browse around for white papers on Google. I came across one with a really succinct description of Fischer-Tropsch. I thought it might be worth capturing for future reference.

Thanks to a group focusing on "Improved Fischer-Tropsch Economics Enabled
by Microchannel Technology"

Fischer-Tropsch Process and Products

The FT process was first developed by Franz Fischer and Hanz Tropsch in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. The chemistry is based on making longer chain hydrocarbons from a mixture of carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2), referred to as “synthesis gas”, at an elevated pressure and temperature and in the presence of a catalyst.

The excess heat generated from the reaction has typically been removed by inserting boiler tubes that carry water. In theory, any source of carbon can be used to generate the synthesis gas. The majority of the products from FT synthesis are paraffinic waxes based on the following chemical equation.

nCO + (2n+1)H2 → CnH2n+2 + H2O (1)

Typical byproducts are liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and naphtha. After the FT process, heavier hydrocarbons can be hydrocracked to produce distillate products, notably diesel and jet fuels.[

FT derived transportation fuels are typically referred to as synthetic fuels. During the 20th
century, these fuels were derived from coal in situations where petroleum was not readily available, such as Germany in WWII and South Africa during Apartheid.

The white paper of course goes on to describe why its relevant now. Regardless I love how simply this captured the subject. It is also worth note that the paper's focus on micro-channels ain't half bad neither. Oregon State University has some reasonable research going on around micro-channels and its supposed to have a huge potential. Though the promises of a micro-channel biodiesel technology never really materialized as promised five years ago (being it was five years out five years ago).

No comments: