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 $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: $2.89 million; DOE share: $2.0 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.
Source:United States Energy Information Administration.
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