Fourth-generation GTL technology produces clean synthetic crude at half the capital cost

HOUSTON – A 4th generation gas-to-liquids (GTL) technology is now available with the promise of producing 100 BPD of light synthetic crude per 1 MMcfd of dry gas at about 50% of CAPEX compared to existing technologies.

INFRA Technology’s GTL process is capable of converting 1 MMscf of natural gas into 105 bbl of synthetic oil with self-sufficient production of both steam and electricity.

Dmitry Popov, VP Commercial for INFRA Technology, holds a bottle of the clear synthetic crude produced from INFRA’s pilot plant.

INFRA Technology group’s proprietary GTL technology is based on a 4th generation, fixed-bed Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis process. The INFRA.xtl process is optimized for operating with highly productive catalysts, for the production of light synthetic oil and clean liquid synthetic transportation fuels from natural and associated gas, as well as from biomass and other fossil fuels (XTL).

INFRA.xtl GTL products are compatible with the existing oil industry infrastructure, processes and technologies, and with the existing fleet of transportation vehicles without any alterations. Its synthetic fuels have ultra-high quality and correspond to the high ecological requirements: no waxy crudes, zero aromatics, zero sulfur, zero nitrogen, etc.

INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS

Incorporated in 2009, INFRA Technology has operations in the U.S. and Russia. INFRA’s multi-disciplinary R&D team consists of specialists in catalysis, surface chemistry, chemistry and physics of membranes, material sciences, chemical technology and engineering, and mathematical modeling of chemical processes. Since its creation, the company has developed, patented and tested several inventions in the GTL field, made first commercial sale of the GTL pilot unit to Gazprom in 2013, and commissioned a catalyst factory in 2015. INFRA is currently executing an EPCI project for a 100 BPD modular transportable GTL plant in Houston, as well as completed two pre-FEED studies for GTL facilities in Asia and in Russia.

HIGH-PERFORMANCE CATALYSTS

INFRA Technology is developing several different catalysts to produce the desired products: S1 (synthetic oil), D1 (diesel), J1 (jet fuel) and G1 (gasoline). Catalyst S1 is the first commercial catalyst developed and produced by INFRA Technology. Designed for fixed-bed catalytic reactors, the catalyst appears as black cylindrical granules with a slight metallic reflection. The main function is the catalysis of the FT process, or the reaction between carbon monoxide and hydrogen, with formation of heavier, mostly liquid hydrocarbons (C5+). The main active component is cobalt metal. INFRA has started industrial production at its own factory in Russia. In parallel, the catalyst is also being transferred for mass fabrication to a U.S. manufacturer.

SYNTHETIC FUEL ASSAY

INFRA’s GTL units produce light synthetic oil, which is close to a product, characterized by Shultz-Flory alpha of 0.77. INFRA.xtl’s unique quality characteristics include:

  • More than 95% of liquid light fractions (FBP <360oC);
  • No sulfur and aromatics;
  • Large fraction of iso-paraffins and olefins;
  • High cetane number for diesel fuel;
  • Large (up to 45%) fraction of jet fuel fraction.
  • Properties of INFRA.xtl catalyst family also allow the operator to fine-tune the process for the production of clean diesel and jet fuel.

PILOT PLANTS

INFRA has built two generations of full-cycle integrated (natural gas –> sulfur cleaning –> synthesis gas-CO2removal –> FT synthesis -> liquid product) continuously operating testing facilities (capable of producing up to 0.5 BPD of liquid. This first pilot unit was built in 2010 and allowed testing of the FT process in different single-tube and multi-tube reactors. Tube length varied from 1,500 to 3,000 mm. In 2013, the first pilot plant was acquired by VNIIGAZ Gazprom. A second-generation pilot, commissioned in 2014, is differentiated by high degree of automation, capable of operating several single-tube and multi-tube reactors of up to 6 m in height.

INDEPENDENT VERIFICATION

INFRA Technology processes and products have been verified by international agencies and consultants. Genesis Oil & Gas Consultants (UK) has independently tested and benchmarked the proprietary INFRA.xtl process efficiency, mass and heat balance. Key proprietary catalyst parameters have been verified by Boreskov Institute of Catalysis. Synthetic oil has been tested by Saybolt (part of Core Laboratories) in the US and All-Russian Oil Processing Research Institute in Russia. The Russian research institute has also tested the synthetic oil miscibility with mineral oil.

COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT

INFRA Technology prepares to start commissioning in its EPCI project for building a GTL plant in Texas, USA, later this year. The plant will become the first small-scale commercial GTL project. The plant will process 1 million cubic feet of natural gas to produce 100 barrels per day of synthetic oil:

 M100 is a modular, transportable GTL unit based on the direct conversion of natural gas into synthetic oil and drop-in transportation fuels (diesel), Fig. 4. M100 guarantees 100 bbl of synthetic oil (60/40 mixture of gasoline and diesel with high share of jet fuel) from 1 MMscfd of gas. The unit extends 4,000 sq ft.

With direct conversion of methane into syngas, INFRA expects to reduce CAPEX by 50% over existing GTL technologies.

INFRA Technology is building its M100 commercial plant as containerized modules for easy transportation by rail or sea.