By Gary Thomas
Oxford Catalysts Group has announced the selection of microchannel Fischer-Tropsch (FT) reactor technology, a process devised by its subsidiary Velocys, for utilization in a waste-to-liquids (WTL) commercial demonstration facility to be built in northern California by Sierra Energy.
The California Energy Commission partly funded the WTL plant through a $5 million grant. The capacity of the facility will be 25-100 barrels per day (bpd), which will be generated from locally procured municipal solid waste (MSW). The plant is slated for operation in 2013.
The WTL process converts waste biomass such as MSW into ultrapure artificial fuels. The process comprises two key operations: synthesis gas production utilizing a gasifier and then FT synthesis. Upgrading the ensuing FT product then takes place through hydrocracking and fractionation to create a suite of liquid hydrocarbon fuels. These fuels normally have superior quality when compared to those obtained by conventional resources and can be directly replaced for traditional fuels.
SacPort Biofuels will host the commercial demonstration, in which Sierra Energy’s proprietary FastOx waste gasification process will be utilized for the gasification, while Velocys’ microchannel FT reactor technology will be utilized for the FT synthesis. Sierra Energy plans to utilize this commercial demonstration as the cornerstone for designing a turn-key, waste gasification system dubbed as the FastOx Pathfinder.
Oxford Catalyst Group’s Commercial Director, Jeff McDaniel stated that the modular nature and high efficiency of microchannel FT reactors make them suitable for this kind of purpose as capacity can be augmented easily by simply connecting more FT reactor modules.
Sierra Energy’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Michael Hart stated that developing modular, multi-purpose and small-scale systems is important to increase the adoption of waste gasification. The combination of FastOx gasification and Velocys’ microchannel FT reactor technology enables communities to generate transportation fuels straightaway from waste, thus helping them lowering environmental footprint and providing a key revenue source to them.