Upgrading of crude from direct gas-to-liquid processing

Period of Performance: 06/08/2015 - 03/07/2016

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Thermosolv, LLC
3474 North 3rd Street
Laramie , WY 82072
Firm POC
Principal Investigator

Abstract

Worldwide, over 140 billion m3/year of natural gas from low-producing wells cannot be captured by economically efficient means and are wasted. The GasTechno process for direct partial methane oxidation into liquid oxygenates is the only worlds technology that is economically efficient at the low volumes of the gas utilization. The main drawback preventing wide acceptance of GasTechno is a high yield of products undesirable in small-scale distributed plants: formaldehyde and organic acids. This three-phase SBIR project aims to develop and commercialize a novel process for chemical conversion of GasTechno crude into benign value-added chemicals and fuels. The proposed process includes i) a chemical reaction step to convert formaldehyde to methylal and acids to esters, and ii) a fractionation step to separate the converted crude into commercially valuable products. The catalytic methanol-formaldehyde acetalization and methanol-acids esterification will be performed simultaneously in a reactive distillation setup. The fractionation will be done by distillation. Phase I will demonstrate an efficient catalytic conversion of formaldehyde and organic acids in GasTechno crude on the bench-scale reactive distillation setup; simulations will show the potential to separate the converted crude into marketable products. Phase II will demonstrate the proposed process by building a pilot scale 2-5 bbl/day of the crude) plant. In Phase III, a fully functional autonomous demonstration plant processing 100-500 bbl/day of GasTechno crude will be constructed and run. The proposed process would be a critical addition to GasTechno; the latter will become a complete chain of chemical conversion and separation steps that processes the stranded natural gas into value- added products: general-use organic solvents, alcohol motor fuels and fuel additives, corrosion inhibitors for the pipelines, and aqueous solvents for preparing the drilling muds used in oil and gas industry. Small-scale GasTechno plants will be autonomously operating in the oil and gas fields, utilizing presently wasted natural gas. Besides solving the gas flaring problem, the proposed development would decrease the demand for crude oil to produce motor fuels, and would make a considerable positive impact on the United States energy security.