New Jersey Plant Converts Natural Gas Directly into Drop-in Gasoline

Primus Green Energy of Hillsborough, NJ, celebrated the commissioning one of the first demonstration plants in the country to convert natural gas directly into drop-in, 93-octane gasoline, according a Chemical Engineering article.

This demonstration plant will provide data for scaling up the process commercially, which Primus CEO Robert Johnsen says is expected to happen in mid-2014. Bechtel will help Primus build that 20 to 30 million gallon plant.

Since other companies have made gasoline and diesel fuel from natural gas, or biomass and other nontraditional energy sources, Primus has concentrated on making that process more efficient.

Simply changing catalysts

In essence, the Primus process improves commercially proven methanol synthesis and MTG processes into a single-loop process that converts syngas directly to gasoline, but more efficiently, while making it less expensive to build than existing technologies.

In addition to gasoline, the process can also produce jet fuel, diesel, and chemicals by simply changing catalysts. Primus claimed in a New York Times article that its product would be competitive with petroleum-based gasoline even when crude oil is trading at $65 a barrel.

The video in the right window explains Primus' proprietary technology, which involves methanol synthesis from syngas in an initial step, followed by subsequent conversion of methanol to dimethyl ether in another reactor. The process then synthesizes and treats the gasoline. George Boyajian, VP for business development, said the Primus process has a conversion efficiency of 35%, which is more than 80% of the theoretical maximum, and the company is working to raise the efficiency.

Where will we find natural gas next?

Images: Primus Green Energies