Engelhard and Sasol develop new Fischer-Tropsch catalyst
7 July 2000
Engelhard Corporation of Iselin, NJ, and South Africa’s Sasol Limited announced a manufacturing and supply agreement in which Engelhard will produce a Fischer-Tropsch base-metal catalyst for Sasol Technology (Pty) Limited, an affiliate of Sasol Limited. The catalyst, developed by Sasol and scaled up by Engelhard, will be used in the first commercial plants using Sasol’s Slurry Phase Distillate (SPD) process, a method for converting natural gas into liquid hydrocarbons.
The commercialization of Fischer-Tropsch gas-to-liquid (GTL) process would enable energy companies to convert remote or associated natural gas, currently often flared off in the production of crude oil, into valuable fuel products. This would allow energy companies to tap natural gas reserves in remote areas by enabling them to convert the natural gas to liquid hydrocarbons such as diesel oil, which are much easier and less expensive to transport. In addition, diesel fuel obtained from the process is of excellent quality and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics.
Sasol said it is already in negotiations with several major international energy companies to license the SPD process or utilize it in joint projects, and has an agreement with Chevron to form a global alliance to implement GTL ventures.
Jan Fourie, executive director of Sasol Limited, said, “The combination of our unique Fischer-Tropsch catalyst and SPD process, together with Engelhard’s catalyst development and manufacturing expertise, resulted in a commercially proven and economically viable product that provides a real opportunity to immediately monetize gas reserves. This is demonstrated by the Nigerian and QATARI gas-to-liquids ventures under development, which will utilize Sasol’s well-proven technology. This agreement is a further step in Sasol’s pursuit of attractive offshore business opportunities created by the utilization of our world-leading gas-to-liquids technology.”
Engelhard has designed and will soon begin construction on a $20-million capacity expansion at its manufacturing facility in DeMeern, The Netherlands. The new capacity will be devoted to production of Sasol’s Fischer-Tropsch catalyst. Engelhard and Sasol are sharing the cost of the expansion project.