Conversion of synthesis gas into clean diesel fuel from natural gas (Gas-to-Liquids - GTL) via a Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (FTS) process can provide an economical way to create value from unconventional, remote and problem gas. However, conventional processes, fixed-bed and slurry phase, are not economically viable for the smaller plants required for processing stranded natural gas fields. On the other hand, a microchannel reactor for FTS offers the opportunity for a small, modular, less expensive and high efficiency facility. Over the past several years Velocys has been engaged in not only the development of microchannel reactor technology for FTS, but also supported cobalt catalysts that provide the necessary level of C5+ productivity for an economically viable process. The influence of support properties, synthesis methodology, cobalt loading and promoters on catalyst performance has been studied. For example, it has been determined that both the support surface chemistry and the Co particle size distribution have a strong effect on the rate of catalyst deactivation for Co loadings >40%. In this presentation the authors will show how the structural properties of a Co/SiO2 catalyst are influenced by both the surface chemistry of the support and the method of synthesis. Catalyst characterization data will be used to explain observed FTS performance in a microchannel reactor.


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