Technologies & Services

Companies can collaborate with Synfuels Americas on research and development to improve the performance of technologies and lower costs for manufacturing.

Synfuels Americas' primary services include the following:

  • Licensing and deployment of Synfuels China’s proprietary Fischer-Tropsch synthesis and product refining technology for coal-to-liquids (CTL) and gas-to-liquids (GTL) processes
  • Engineering design, procurement and construction (EPC) support
  • Consulting support for early phase project exploration, plant commission, and production start-up
  • Exploration of international business development opportunities

Synfuels Americas’ parent company, Synfuels China, helped with the design and licensed their technologies to one of the world’s largest commercial CTL plants at 100,000 barrels per day of liquid products produced, which will be commissioned in 2016. A 25,000 barrels per day CTL plant will also be commissioned in 2016 using Synfuels China's technologies. Both plants will produce low-sulfur diesel. Synfuels China has also served as the EPC for three successful prototype CTL plants using their proprietary technology. All technology is developed in-house starting from fundamental laboratory research, with more than 80 patents filed.

Technology & Process Highlights:

  • High efficiency Fischer-Tropsch synthesis of hydrocarbon products
  • High efficiency slurry-bed reactor (medium temperature)
  • Optimized, high activity iron-based catalyst
  • System integration and cogeneration technologies
  • Equipment design and optimization for efficient processes and scaling
  • Highly selective product refining technologies
  • Process water treatment with minimum water usage

Synfuels China’s Technology Package typically includes:

  • Technical assistance during mechanical design and construction of plant
  • Training of licensee operating and laboratory personnel
  • Plant inspection
  • Plant startup assistance
  • A process design package (PDP)

Applied R&D includes:

  • Iron and cobalt Fischer-Tropsch catalysts
  • Sulfur-free hydro-treatment catalysts: hydrogenation, hydrocracking, isomerization
  • Fluidized catalytic cracker (FCC) catalysts for synthetic crudes
  • Catalysts for aromatic formation from Fischer-Tropsch naphtha state
  • Selective hydrogenation, such as biomass-based oxygenates and hydrogenation catalysts

  • Slurry-bed Fischer-Tropsch synthesis and product refining processes for fuels like diesel and gasoline
  • Expansion-bed cobalt Fischer-Tropsch synthesis and refining processes for diesel, lubricants and waxes
  • Closed cycle, cooling water processes
  • New gasification processes

Research & Development

Research and development on theoretical and fundamental issues impacting conversion processes is led by the R&D branch of our parent company. All technological services provided by Synfuels Americas are originally developed from fundamental research, tested at the pilot scale, and then expanded to commercial-scale technology.

Basic Research

Access to cutting-edge research and basic catalytic mechanisms for Fischer-Tropsch synthesis processes. Key areas of basic research include:

  • The chemical preparation of the catalysts
  • Catalytic reaction engineering
  • Selective hydrocarbon product distribution
  • Control theory and methodology
  • Detailed elementary reaction kinetic experiments using models
  • The active phase structure and theoretical calculations of quantum chemistry
  • The structural characterization of the

Process Research

General technology and plant process simulation and modeling research is critical for developing technology at the frontier of the energy conversion industry.
Key areas for research in simulation and modeling include:

  • Optimizing synthetic gas for the Fischer-Tropsch process
  • Dynamic mechanisms
  • Reactor simulation and modeling
  • Process simulation software development
  • Basic physical data and thermodynamic modeling
  • Industrial ecology modeling.

Thorough research is conducted related to a wide range of Fischer-Tropsch synthesis and product refining processes.
Key areas of specific process-based research include:

  • Recycling of lighter components
  • Synthetic oil and heavy wax hydrotreating
  • Heavy wax fractionation, hydrogenation, and cracking
  • Product recovery and purification
  • Separation and purification of synthetic products and other fuels
  • Fischer-Tropsch synthesized oil hydrogenation process
  • Fischer-Tropsch wax hydrocracking technology
  • Manufacturing diesel via hydrogenation catalyst technology
  • Non-curing system hydrotreating processes
  • Thermal cracking of naphtha to light olefins technology
  • Production of light olefins using middle distillates techniques
  • Synthetic wax production
  • Aqueous phase refining process technology
  • Engineering research of separation of byproducts (alcohols, aldehydes, acids, etc.)

Catalyst Products

The spread of products produced via Fischer-Tropsch synthesis is influenced by many variables: temperature, feed gas composition, pressure, catalyst type and promoters. Known metals for Fischer-Tropsch catalysis are iron, cobalt, ruthenium, and nickel. Ruthenium has reserves too low for commercial applications and as a result is expensive. Nickel is good for methanation and methane reforming, but iron and cobalt catalysts are the focus of most research for improving catalysts for Fischer-Tropsch synthesis reactions.

Critical objectives for creating more efficient catalysts are improving the useful life, activity and stability of the catalyst so that it may be reused with minimal additional catalyst input. Other general requirements for improving catalysts are high selectivity for desirable products (e.g., low methane and high C5+) and mechanical robustness (e.g., the optimal particle size and density).

Iron-based Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis Catalyst

Iron-based catalysts produce more olefins and oxygenates than cobalt-based catalysts. Iron is also considered more versatile with regards to determining the H2/CO ratio, operational temperatures, pressures and product selectivity. Iron-based Fischer-Tropsch synthesis is able to produce light hydrocarbons for the fuel and chemical industry and heavier hydrocarbons (C35+) for the wax market. Compared to the other metals suitable for Fischer-Tropsch synthesis reactions, iron is a cheap raw material and is on average 250 times less expensive than cobalt. While iron is believed to be more tolerant of poisoning (e.g., sulfur in the synthesis gas), the disadvantage is the iron catalyst can deactivate quickly requiring additional catalyst input.

Synfuels China’s carefully structured iron catalyst (named SynFT-I) for its medium temperature (275°C) slurry-bed Fischer-Tropsch synthesis process has record-breaking hydrocarbon productivity and very low methane selectivity (less than 3% by weight). These iron-based catalysts have high activity and high selectivity for C5+, greater than 92% and frequently more than 96%. The catalyst is easily separated from any waxes and is able to produce 1,200 tons of high quality C3+ products per ton of catalyst utilized. The highly active nature of SynFT-I lowers the required solid catalyst charge in the slurry-bed reactor. Productivity is high at 1.00 - 1.40 grams product per gram of catalyst per hour. The proprietary Fischer-Tropsch process has a high oil production capability of 7,000 – 10,000 barrels of oil per barrel of catalyst. Superior byproducts include high quality synthetic crudes with very low oxygenates, especially acids. The iron-based catalyst used in the medium temperature slurry-bed Fischer-Tropsch synthesis process has high attrition resistance and is easy to integrate with both coal and gas processes.