California energy tech firm pushing gas-to-liquids technology

miércoles 1 de abril de 2015 11:30 GYT

By Kristen Hays

HOUSTON, April 1 (Reuters) - A San Francisco company that has come up with a less expensive technology to convert natural gas to gasoline, diesel and other liquids is seeking to put it to use on a larger commercial scale.

Siluria Technologies uses a catalyst to convert methane into ethylene, a building block for petrochemicals, and then another catalyst to turn that into liquids, primarily gasoline, Chief Executive Ed Dineen said in an interview this week.

"It's a technology the industry has long sought after," said Dineen, who was formerly chief operating officer of chemicals company LyondellBasell Industries NV.

With backing from Saudi Aramco and partnerships with well-known industry players including the Linde Group and Brazilian petrochemical company Braskem, Dineen hopes to break into natural gas processing with improvements that make the decades-old technology economical.

A less expensive way to turn natural gas into motor fuels could potentially benefit consumers, as natural gas is far cheaper and more plentiful than crude oil.

Abundant domestic natural gas from the shale boom prompted plans by Royal Dutch Shell and South African petrochemicals company Sasol for gas-to-liquids projects that use a different process, known as Fischer-Tropsch.

But Shell in 2013 shelved a potential gas-to-liquids plant in Louisiana when the cost spiked to $20 billion, and Sasol in January delayed its final decision on whether to build a similar project in the same state after oil prices tumbled.

Fischer-Tropsch has high start-up and operating costs that involve breaking natural gas apart into a synthetic gas, which can be converted into liquids, Dineen said.   Continuación...