|USDOE-sponsored WVU CO2-Methane Bi-Reforming|
|Sunday - October 31, 2010|
Just recently, we sent you report of: "'New Catalysts for Syngas Production from Carbon Dioxide and Methane'; by Mahesh V. Iyer; Thesis submitted to the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Chemical Engineering; Edwin L. Kugler, Ph.D., Chair; Dady B. Dadyburjor, Ph.D.; Jean B. Cropley, M.S.
Iyer's Thesis disclosed further study on the Carbon Dioxide-Methane bi-reforming process, wherein those two gasses are reacted together, in some cases in "tri-reforming" reactions, wherein Water is added to the mix, and made thereby to synthesize higher, and valuable, hydrocarbons.
Herein, we see that Iyer and his WVU faculty advisors teamed up to make further exposition of, and perhaps further advancements on, the technology disclosed in that Thesis by Iyer.
Of important note is the fact that the United States Department of Energy actually sponsored this West Virginia University Carbon Dioxide recycling work, as in this acknowledgement we excerpt, from the full enclosed and attached document, as a foreword:
"Financial support from the US Department of Energy under Cooperative Agreement DE-AC22-99FT40540 with the Consortium of Fossil Fuel Science is gratefully acknowledged."
Forgive our now over-active suspicions, but, in the contract serial number, just as the "DE" stands, no doubt, for "Department (of) Energy", do you suppose the "FT" stands, as well, for something?
Provocative speculations aside, brief comment follows more informative excerpts from:
"Kinetic Modeling for Methane Reforming with Carbon Dioxide
Mahesh Iyer, Laurence Norcio, Edwin Kugler and Dady Dadyburjor
(Abstract): A cobalt-tungsten carbide material was investigated as a precursor for a stable and active catalyst for the dry reforming of methane to produce synthesis gas. The kinetics of CH4/CO2 reforming were studied ... based on a detailed experimental design.
Introduction: Existing industrial process use methane as a primary feedstock for synthesis gas (syngas), a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen which serves as the feedstock for a variety of downstream processes: methanol synthesis, Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (etc.).
Methane is also an unavoidable byproduct in the Fischer-Tropsch process (and) recovering Fischer-Tropsch methane back to syngas would play significant roles in the economics of the production of synthetic liquid fuels and chemicals.
(Note: Carbon Dioxide is also a byproduct of the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis of liquid hydrocarbons from Coal, via syngas. The technology being discussed herein, the "bi-" or "dry" reforming of Methane with Carbon Dioxide, to create more hydrocarbon synthesis gas, can thus be seen as an exposition of technology for the reclamation and utilization of byproducts arising from an indirect Coal-to-Liquid process, as Iyer, et. al, indicate, without saying so specifically, in passages following.)
Reforming of methane to syngas can be carried out in (various ways which include):
... steam reforming (as in) CH4 + H2O = CO + 3H2
... dry reforming (as in) CH4 + CO2 = 2CO + 2H2
(which) has been proposed as a promising technology because of the use of the greenhouse gas CO2.
Dry reforming can also be used with a Fischer-Tropsch recycle stream which would also contain CO2.
(Note, again: Such a "Fischer-Tropsch recycle stream", containing both Carbon Dioxide and Methane, is what would arise from a facility using the Fischer-Tropsch process to convert Coal into liquid fuels. This is, then, in one aspect, a technology which could use Coal-to-Liquid conversion-byproducts to synthesize more hydrocarbons.)
Finally, dry reforming has been evaluated to have the lowest operating costs, about 20% lower than those of other reforming processes.
(We wonder how much lower the costs are compared to shipping all the Carbon Dioxide to, and then stuffing it down, a West Texas depleted oil field rat hole, as in current geologic sequestration schemes; especially when it is considered that commercially-valuable hydrocarbons would be synthesized from WVU's Carbon Dioxide-Methane recycling technology.)
Recently, we have shown that a catalyst obtained by the appropriate pretreatment of a cobalt-tungsten carbide is active for dry reforming. Conversions are high ... and the catalyst is stable for at least 150 hours."
So, in an efficient process, we can react Carbon Dioxide with Methane to generate a hydrocarbon synthesis gas which, like similar syngas generated directly from Coal - - which, when catalytically condensed into liquid hydrocarbons, produces both CO2 and Methane as byproducts - - can then be catalytically condensed into liquid hydrocarbons.
Moreover, Steam can be added to the reaction in order to increase, if needed for specific hydrocarbon catalytic syntheses, the amount of free Hydrogen available, relative to the Carbon.
These WVU scientists seem to hint at the fact that such a technology could be applied to un-reacted off-gasses from a Fischer-Tropsch, or related, processor which was condensing liquid hydrocarbons out of synthesis gas generated from Coal.
Such an "add on" tail gas processor might, we submit, improve the productivity and profitability of a complete Coal conversion facility designed to synthesize liquid hydrocarbon fuels using Coal as the primary, basic raw matrerial.
If a processor, using technology as described herein by WVU, were to be combined with a Sabatier reactor, which synthesizes, as we've documented for you many times, Methane from Carbon Dioxide, then isn't it at least conceptually possible that such a combined unit could be, figuratively, plopped onto the top of a Coal Country smoke stack, and, using waste heat from the Coal-fired power plant, convert some of the CO2 into Methane, and, then, combine that Methane with more Carbon Dioxide to generate a synthesis gas that could then be piped down to a Fischer-Tropsch reactor - with liquid hydrocarbons being excreted down on ground level as the final product?
Such, perhaps fanciful, speculation aside:
The Sabatier process, as affirmed by both the Nobel Committee and, as we've separately documented, NASA, can convert Carbon Dioxide into Methane.
West Virginia University, in the process they define herein, can combine and react such Methane with even more Carbon Dioxide; and, thus produce a synthesis gas suitable for catalytic condensation via, as WVU specifically identifies, the "methanol" and "Fischer-Tropsch" syntheses to produce liquid hydrocarbon fuels.