Energix Research, Inc. has successfully produced liquid fuels from natural gas with a process that is more efficient -- ultimately reducing capital cost and enabling mobility. Energix Research's tests indicate that its technology enables the entire gas-to-liquids (GTL) process to consume a lower percentage of the energy in the gas source and, due to the lower capital costs, the overall cost of production can be very competitive with conventional, large scale refineries which produce these fuels from crude oil. Energix expects to develop affordable, micro GTL plants to monetize underutilized resources, such as abandoned natural gas fields, coal bed methane (CBM) fields, flared gases, etc.
"We believe our process can affordably produce 50 to 200 tons per day of methanol, gasoline, diesel or di-methyl ether (DME -- a clean burning fuel substitute for LPG) with truck-mounted units using methane derived from biogas sources, such as landfills. Another source would be abandoned gas wells with very small reserves, which currently are not viable due to the inability to economically transport the fuel from the site," said Mr. Juzer Jangbarwala, CEO of Energix Research, Inc. "We will first focus on producing methanol and DME. Our vision is to eliminate the carbon footprint associated with the transport of fuel or other hydrocarbon chemical products such as solvents and alcohols. By producing high energy, low-emission GTL on site from existing gas sources that are often wasted, countries can reduce their dependence on foreign hydrocarbons and eliminate the carbon footprint associated with the transport of those products."
Energix Research executed the GTL process via the syngas and Fischer- Tropsch synthesis route at a high conversion rate (87%) and selectivity rate (99%) using its patent-pending, electrically activated nanocatalyst process. Energix Research's proprietary process uses local electronic excitation to the catalyst, using conductive nanofibers and nano catalysts and applies a low level DC current to them. This technique reduces the required bulk feed gas temperatures to less than 50% of conventional processes, as the energy of reaction and activation of catalyst is provided directly where it is needed to create very narrowly targeted reactions with high selectivity and yields. The lower bulk gas temperature reduces the capital costs typically associated with exotic metals and energy recovery equipment in GTL refineries while increasing energy efficiency -- ultimately making Energix's micro GTL and other chemical plants extremely affordable.
The energy industry has long sought a low-cost GTL process to enable energy transport from abandoned natural gas fields as a liquid. Existing processes consume more than half of the energy contained in the input gas and had to be done on a large scale with costly energy recovery equipment, making them more expensive than refining from crude oil, and are therefore not economically viable.
It is estimated that 3,000 tcf, approximately half of all worldwide natural gas resources, are considered remote or stranded in so called abandoned wells or wells with reserves that are not economically accessible to markets by either pipelines or LNG. Energix believes that much of this gas could be utilized if there were an economical or easily moveable GTL production facility such as the one it is currently developing.
Natural gas, specifically methane, is flared off in large volumes at landfills (studies estimate 3.5 tcf/year worldwide), and oil production sites offshore, where it is produced as "associated gas" with the oil. A GTL plant at landfills would produce an extremely valuable high-grade fuel from gas that is currently being flared, thus eliminating the resulting emissions. Offshore GTL plants would allow the gas to be recovered as liquid and blended with the crude being shipped to shore, enhancing the crude's quality.
The GTL process is the second process Energix Research is commercializing. Energix has successfully applied its proprietary process to produce hydrogen at very high conversion rates (>98%) and low capital costs ($200,000 for a 50nM3/hr plant) from various hydrocarbon feeds. Using the distributed generation philosophy, the technology has been tested to produce hydrogen at micro capacities with the same production cost of very large hydrogen generation plants, thus eliminating the need for transportation of hydrogen. Extensive reliability tests have been completed, and a 5KW on-site generator based on steam reforming of methanol for use with a fuel cell back-up power supply for the telecommunications industry will be launched later in 2009. The direct cost of producing electricity with this generator will be less than US$0.10 per KWH.