Technical Press Release

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11 September 2012

Microchannel GTL chosen for use in speciality petroleum products facility

A modular Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) plant incorporating Fischer-Tropsch (FT) technology developed by Velocys, Inc., the US-based subsidiary of the Oxford Catalysts Group, has been chosen by Calumet Specialty Product Partners, L.P., major US-based producer of speciality petroleum products, for use in the expansion of Calumet’s Karns City, Pennsylvania facility. The modular GTL plant, with a nominal capacity of 1000 barrels per day (bpd), will produce very pure paraffinic hydrocarbons. These can be used to manufacture a range of ultra-high quality products, including food grade waxes, cosmetics and lubricants.

The raw material for these products is typically derived from the waxy portion of crude oil via normal refining operations. However, high oil prices mean that this feedstock is increasingly expensive. The use of FT waxes produced via GTL will enable Calumet to take advantage of abundant of low-cost American natural gas to produce an ultra-high quality feedstock.

The modular GTL plant, which will also include autothermal reformer (ATR) gasification technology from the Danish company, Haldor Topsøe, will be designed by Ventech Engineers LLC and constructed as shippable modules at Ventech’s fabrication facility in Pasadena, Texas. These then will be transported to the client’s site for rapid installation and interconnection with its existing refining facility. The modular GTL plant is expected to start production in the second half of 2014.

Ken Roberts, Senior Business Development Director, Velocys, Inc. says:

“We are pleased to have been selected for this planned commercial plant and to be working with Ventech to deliver it. This is an innovative use of Velocys’s microchannel FT technology that will help the client to cut feedstock costs while at the same time ensuring security of supply and improved product quality.”

– Ends –

Notes to Editors

For further information or to obtain pictures, please contact:

Ken Roberts, Senior Business Development Director, Velocys, Inc.


Nina Morgan, Science Writer for the Oxford Catalysts Group



The GTL process

Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) is a process used to convert natural gas into high quality liquid fuels that are totally compatible with petroleum based fuels. These fuels can be used in existing engines and infrastructure. The GTL process involves two main operations: production of a synthesis gas (syngas) via processes such as steam methane reforming (SMR) or autothermal reforming (ATR); followed by Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis. The resulting product can either be blended with crude or upgraded via hydrocracking and fractionation to produce a range of liquid hydrocarbon fuels.

In SMR, methane gas is mixed with steam and passed over a catalyst to produce a synthesis gas (syngas) consisting of hydrogen (H2) and carbon monoxide (CO). The reaction is highly endothermic, so requires the input of heat. This can be generated by the combustion of the excess H2 or other fuel gas. In ATR, oxygen rather than steam is used as the oxidant to produce the syngas.

In the FT process, first developed in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s to produce liquid fuel from coal, syngas is converted into paraffinic hydrocarbons over a cobalt catalyst. The process is highly exothermic, or heat generating. The FT product can be blended with crude oil, or upgraded via hydrocracking to produce a range of products including diesel, jet fuel, naphtha and base oils for synthetic lubricants. Generally these products are of higher quality than those derived by conventional means.

To request a diagram outlining the GTL process, e-mail:

Microchannel Fischer-Tropsch (FT) reactors

Microchannel technology is a developing field of chemical processing that intensifies chemical reactions. It enables lower cost, smaller and more productive processes by improving the heat and mass transfer performance and reducing the dimensions of the reactor systems.

Microchannel FT reactors are compact reactors containing thousands of channels with characteristic dimensions in the millimetre range. Process channels, filled with catalyst, are interleaved with water-filled coolant channels. The small diameter channels dissipate heat more quickly than conventional fixed-bed reactors with relatively larger tubes in the 2.5 – 10 cm (1 – 4 inch) range. As a result, more active catalysts can be used.

Mass and heat transfer limitations reduce the efficiency of the conventional large FT reactors. The use of microchannel technology makes it possible to overcome these limitations and to intensify the chemical reactions, enabling them to occur at rates 10 to 1000 times faster than in conventional systems.

Microchannel Fischer-Tropsch (FT) reactors marketed under the brand name Velocys, and using a highly active FT catalyst developed by Oxford Catalysts Ltd have been successfully tested at the laboratory, pilot and demonstration scale. These reactors exhibit conversion efficiencies in the range of 70% per pass, and are designed for economical production on a scale that matches the resource.

Microchannel GTL

Conventional GTL technology involves large, heavy equipment, and is only economically viable for plants producing around 30,000 or more barrels per day (bpd). By contrast, microchannel GTL plants can be designed to have a small footprint and can operate efficiently and economically when producing as little as 500 bpd.

Because microchannel reactors are modular, microchannel GTL plants can be scaled to match the resource. The plants can be fabricated in a factory, reducing construction time and simplifying logistics for use offshore or in remote locations.

The Oxford Catalysts Group

Oxford Catalysts Group PLC is a listed public company (LSE: OCG) comprised of two operating subsidiaries – Velocys, Inc. and Oxford Catalysts Ltd. The Group has over 80 employees, and operates from facilities near Abingdon, Oxfordshire, UK and Columbus, Ohio, USA. The company was founded in October 2004 and admitted to trading on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange on 26th April 2006.

Velocys, Inc.

Velocys, Inc. is based in Columbus, Ohio, USA and specialises in microchannel reactors and process technology for the conversion of low-value resources into clean-burning fuels. Applications include gas to liquids (GTL), biomass to liquids (BTL) and coal to liquids (CTL). The company was spun out of Battelle Memorial Institute, a major not-for-profit science and technology organisation, in 2001. It owns, or has licences to, the largest microchannel patent portfolio in the world, with over 650 patent filings, and supports a large microchannel development team. Velocys, Inc. was acquired by Oxford Catalysts in 2008.

Oxford Catalysts Ltd

Oxford Catalysts Ltd, designs, develops and licences super-active catalysts for the generation of clean fuels from both low-value fossil resources and certain renewable sources such as biomass.

Its core technology is a novel class of catalysts made using the organic matrix combustion (OMX) method. Due to tight control of particle size and surface shape, these catalysts offer significantly higher productivity than conventional metal catalysts, allowing products to be made with smaller amounts of catalyst. The catalysts are also more stable and robust to changes in process conditions. These features make them well matched to the Velocys microchannel reactors, especially for the Fischer-Tropsch process.

Calumet Specialty Product Partners, L.P.

Calumet Specialty Product Partners, L.P. is a leading independent producer of high-quality, specialty hydrocarbon products in North America. Calumet processes crude oil and other feedstocks into customised lubricating oils, solvents, waxes and asphalt used in consumer, industrial, and automotive products. Calumet also produces fuels including gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. They are based in Indianapolis, Indiana and have nine plants in the US, located in Louisiana, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Texas and Missouri.

Ventech Engineers

Ventech Engineers is the global leader in the design and construction of new modular refineries, gas-processing systems, and existing plant relocations. The company headquarters and fabrication facility are located in Pasadena, Texas, US. Ventech also has offices in Russia and the Philippines.

Haldor Topsøe

Haldor Topsøe A/S is a provider of heterogeneous catalysts and technology. The company headquarters is in Lyngby, Denmark. Its fully owned US subsidiary Haldor Topsøe, Inc. is based in Houston, Texas. Haldor Topsøe’s key markets include the refining, petrochemical and power industries.




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