A new type of reactor that converts waste materials into liquid fuels has won the 2010 award from CWC World XTL, a conference for the gas, coal and biomass to liquids industry.
The microchannel reactor developed by Velocys, an Ohio-based subsidiary of the UK’s Oxford Catalysts, is designed to provide a small-scale but high-intensity way to produce liquid fuels from waste that’s close to the waste source. In that way, waste can be converted to productive use without having to transport it long distances, which could erase the environmental benefits of the process.
The Velocys reactor can achieve productivity levels that are orders of magnitude higher than those of conventional Fischer-Tropsch reactors. (The Fischer-Tropsch process uses chemical reactions to convert hydrogen and carbon monoxide into liquid hydrocarbons.) The reactor can also operate economically at outputs as low as 500 barrels of liquid fuel per day.
A demonstration plant that will use the Velocys reactor to convert gasified woodchips into fuel is currently being commissioned in Güssing, Austria.
“Our innovation represents a whole new way of looking at the problems associated with the distributed production of new-generation biofuels, and the fuels produced offer significant environmental benefits over equivalent products from fossil fuels,” said Roy Lipski, CEO of the Oxford Catalysts Group.