Biofuels Power to build GTL pilot plant in Houston

Biofuels Power Corp. (BFLS) has signed a letter of intent with ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions and Liberty GTL to build a small-scale gas-to-liquids (GTL) demonstration facility in Houston, officials announced on Tuesday.

The parties have established a non-binding target date to complete installation and commissioning of the GTL plant on or before December 31, 2014. The purpose of the  pilot plant is to commercially demonstrate converting stranded natural gas resources to synthetic crude oil.

BFLS will operate the pilot plantfor the 2-year demonstration. ThyssenKrupp will provide technical services and contribute a previously operating auto-thermal reformer pilot plant of proven design (ATR), which will be used to generate synthesis gas feedstock for the production of synthetic crude oil. 

Meanwhile, Liberty will provide intellectual property and operating know-how regarding crude oil synthesis along with the relevant catalyst supply. The Liberty technical team is also credited for designing the FT (Fischer Tropsch) reactor, which will convert the synthetic gas to synthetic crude oil. 

“Liberty has been through several years of extensive research and engineering studies and considers its IP, know-how and strategic relationships to be the key to unlock the considerable value in monetizing the abundant gas resources in North America," said Wayne Stocks, president of Liberty. "This plant will be a first for the US and an important step to the future of clean fuels for the nation."

The GTL pilot plant will be assembled at the Houston Clean Energy Park, which is an industrial estate owned by BFLS.

The focus of the plant will be to optimize design and operability of small-scale GTL facilities capable of converting 5 - 10 Mcf/day of natural gas into approximately 500 bpd of synthetic crude oil. 

Building on Liberty’s previous engineering studies completed by ThyssenKrupp in 2013, BFLS and Liberty are in the process of completing engineering on a 500 bpd reference plant design with the goal of deploying multiple units in North America in the future. This process is scheduled to be completed in the coming weeks.

BFLS says it believes that gas to liquids projects of this size may be attractive to operating companies confronted with curtailing production or, in the extreme case, ceasing production due to capital cost barriers related to expansion of natural gas gathering, processing and transmission infrastructure. These “stranded gas wells” would be released for production if the planned GTL units could process the natural gas immediately after completion of the well.

“This GTL pilot project is an important milestone toward our goal of installing small scale GTL plants at stranded gas well sites," said chief commercial officer Eric Gadd. "The pilot plant will prove the commercial viability of deploying small-scale GTL plants in North America. With an abundant natural gas resource base, future gas-to-liquids developments like this could fill a need in the energy industry for decades to come.”

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