Scientific challenges in SynGas conversion: FT – early 20th Century Technology Re-invented for the 21st Century

2011 Spring Symposium

John L. Casci
Johnson Matthey

Abstract – Feedstocks for Chemicals and Fuels are changing, with an increasing emphasis on coal and bio-mass alongside the move to heavier, and dirtier, sources of oil. One technology platform that cuts across these diverse feedstocks is based on Synthesis Gas (SynGas). Each feedstock, however, poses specific challenges: challenges that occur across the flow-sheet particularly in purification and SynGas generation. The global operating environment requires new technologies to be robust and capital intensive while increasing the awareness of, and emphasis on, sustainability requiring innovative solutions to minimize emissions of greenhouse gases. The production of liquid hydrocarbons from SynGas is commonly referred to by
the names of the inventors, Fischer and Tropsch, and hence as Fischer-Tropsch (FT) catalysis. FT technology dates back to the early 20th century but is being “re-invented” for 21st century needs and markets.

This presentation will provide a brief overview of key technologies across the SynGas flowsheet: catalysts and process and the requirement to integrate. Fischer- Tropsch catalysis will be highlighted and a historic perspective presented. Finally, using examples from our own laboratories, the key role of advanced characterization, and diagnostic tools, in the elucidation of catalyst structure across the length scales will be highlighted.

Speaker’s Biography – John Casci is currently the Technology Manager at the Johnson Matthey Technology Centre at Chilton managing Catalyst Research, Manufacturing Science, Catalyst Engineering and Zeolite teams. From 2002-2006, John was the Catalysis R&D Director at Chilton focused on Fischer-Tropsch catalysts. Prior to 2002, John had multiple roles in ICI focusing on catalyst and zeolite research, development and scaleup.