A technology that converts natural gas into liquids and a process that
upgrades raw, low-quality natural gas to pipeline quality are the focus
of two projects selected by the Department of Energy in a nationwide competition.
The projects are valued at approximately $3.2 million, with DOE contributing
a little more than $2 million.
The Energy Department's National Energy Technology Laboratory, the lead
laboratory for fossil energy research and development, will manage the
Praxair of Tarrytown, NY and subcontractor Foster Wheeler
Development Corporation, will develop a novel system that processes natural
gas into "synthesis gas" - gas that can be chemically recombined
into a variety of liquid fuels -- in less time than conventional methods.
Featuring a short reaction-time catalyst used with the company's gas-mixing
technology, the system requires significantly less energy then conventional
synthesis gas manufacturing plants. It also is less costly to build and
does not use steam, another cost-saving feature. It could be a major contributor
in future technologies to convert remote or otherwise stranded gas supplies
into liquid fuels that could be more easily transported to market. Significant
quantities of stranded gas are found in Alaska, for example.
Because it is compact, uses less oxygen than other systems and needs
no steam, the technology could be used in remote locations where capital
costs are typically higher, and in areas where water quality or availability
for steam production is poor. To that end, Praxair will evaluate the benefits
of building two pilot-scale plants: a 5,000 barrel-per-day facility at
an oil-drilling platform in Texas where plant size is critical, and a
25,000 bpd unit in Alaska where water-handling is difficult.
Project cost: $2,890,799; DOE share: $2 million; participant share: $890,799;
project duration: three years.
The Institute of Gas Technology (IGT) of Des Plaines, IL,
will demonstrate its MorphysorbTM process, which removes hydrogen
sulfide and carbon dioxide impurities from low-quality gas that is often
co-produced during oil field operations. The cleaned gas would be used
to power steam generators, allowing utilities that now purchase natural
gas to save on fuel costs.
The technology would be used at the Arroyo Grande Gas Project (AGGP),
an oil-recovery plant that Stocker Resources operates near Pismo Beach,
CA. The plant would be set up to process 4 million cubic feet a day of
low-quality gas. Also to be tested is a low-quality natural gas that could
contain up to 70 percent carbon dioxide and up to 30 percent hydrogen
sulfide, which had not been previously tested. Based on earlier tests,
MorphysorbTM has the potential to reduce the AGGP plant's operational
costs by 40 to 60 percent. IGT developed the technology with support from
NETL and the Gas Research Institute, which will work on this project along
with Stocker and Krupp-Uhde, which will provide startup support, training
and the N-formyl morpholine/N-acetyl morpholine solvent (MorphysorbTM)
that removes acid gas.
Project cost: $295,000; DOE share: $70,000; participant share: $225,000;
project duration: one year.
DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory
manages and implements a broad spectrum of energy and environmental programs.