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Title: Single-Step Syngas-to-Distillates (S2D) Synthesis via Methanol and Dimethyl Ether Intermediates: Final Report

The objective of the work was to enhance price-competitive, synthesis gas (syngas)-based production of transportation fuels that are directly compatible with the existing vehicle fleet (i.e., vehicles fueled by gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, etc.). To accomplish this, modifications to the traditional methanol-to-gasoline (MTG) process were investigated. In this study, we investigated direct conversion of syngas to distillates using methanol and dimethyl ether intermediates. For this application, a Pd/ZnO/Al2O3 (PdZnAl) catalyst previously developed for methanol steam reforming was evaluated. The PdZnAl catalyst was shown to be far superior to a conventional copper-based methanol catalyst when operated at relatively high temperatures (i.e., >300°C), which is necessary for MTG-type applications. Catalytic performance was evaluated through parametric studies. Process conditions such as temperature, pressure, gas-hour-space velocity, and syngas feed ratio (i.e., hydrogen:carbon monoxide) were investigated. PdZnAl catalyst formulation also was optimized to maximize conversion and selectivity to methanol and dimethyl ether while suppressing methane formation. Thus, a PdZn/Al2O3 catalyst optimized for methanol and dimethyl ether formation was developed through combined catalytic material and process parameter exploration. However, even after compositional optimization, a significant amount of undesirable carbon dioxide was produced (formed via the water-gas-shift reaction), and some degree of methane formation could not bemore » completely avoided. Pd/ZnO/Al2O3 used in combination with ZSM-5 was investigated for direct syngas-to-distillates conversion. High conversion was achieved as thermodynamic constraints are alleviated when methanol and dimethyl are intermediates for hydrocarbon formation. When methanol and/or dimethyl ether are products formed separately, equilibrium restrictions occur. Thermodynamic relaxation also enables the use of lower operating pressures than what would be allowed for methanol synthesis alone. Aromatic-rich hydrocarbon liquid (C5+), containing a significant amount of methylated benzenes, was produced under these conditions. However, selectivity control to liquid hydrocarbons was difficult to achieve. Carbon dioxide and methane formation was problematic. Furthermore, saturation of the olefinic intermediates formed in the zeolite, and necessary for gasoline production, occurred over PdZnAl. Thus, yield to desirable hydrocarbon liquid product was limited. Evaluation of other oxygenate-producing catalysts could possibly lead to future advances. Potential exists with discovery of other types of catalysts that suppress carbon dioxide and light hydrocarbon formation. Comparative techno-economics for a single-step syngas-to-distillates process and a more conventional MTG-type process were investigated. Results suggest operating and capital cost savings could only modestly be achieved, given future improvements to catalyst performance. Sensitivity analysis indicated that increased single-pass yield to hydrocarbon liquid is a primary need for this process to achieve cost competiveness.« less
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Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States