Enhanced Fischer-Tropsch Catalysts for Conversion of Biomass and Coal to Transportation Fuels

Period of Performance: 01/01/2012 - 12/31/2012


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

TDA Research, Inc.
12345 W. 52nd Ave. Array
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


Although the FT process is run on a commercial scale in both South Africa and Malaysia, several challenges face the production of liquid fuels from coal, including the attrition resistance of the catalyst and downstream hydrocarbon separation. The FT process could also benefit from a highly selective catalyst to produce desired range of hydrocarbon products. TDA Research, Inc. (TDA) proposes to develop a unique catalytic material to address three technical challenges: FT activity, catalyst selectivity and better heat management. In Phase I we will prepare a novel catalyst that could optimize the gasoline range of paraffins. We will evaluate various formulations to identify their catalytic activity and selectivity, and demonstrate the performance of the best catalyst in a long-duration test under representative conditions. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: A viable alternative to crude oil is needed to moderate the effect of oil price hikes and provide an interim bridge until some other fuel source can commercially supplant petroleum-based fuels. The candidate resources to produce liquid fuels include biomass, oil sands, oil shale and coal, but coal is the most promising resource with over 250 billion tons of known domestic reserves. FT synthesis is the most economically viable method of converting coal into transportation fuels. An active FT synthesis catalysts that is highly selective for diesel and/or gasoline range products could find immediate use in the emerging coal-to-liquids market.