This research work is in line with the State of Qatar's aspiration on becoming the “gas capital of the world”, as it focuses on developing cost effective Gas-to- Liquid (GTL) technologies via Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (FTS). The objective of our present research activities is developing a novel approach to the FTS reactor design through controlling the thermo-physical characteristics of the reaction media by the introduction of a supercritical solvent.

The research is facilitated by QNRF through the flagship National Priorities Research Program, highlighting the importance of the subject matter to Qatar. It is a multidisciplinary consortium comprising of highly specialized teams of foremost scientists in their fields from four universities.

FTS is the focal process in which natural gas is converted to ultra-clean liquid based fuels; it is a highly complex chemical reaction where synthesis gas (a mixture of Hydrogen & Carbon Monoxide) enters the reactor and propagates to various hydrocarbons over a metallic based catalyst. Many factors impede the current commercial FTS technologies, chiefly transport and thermal limitations due to the nature of the phase of operation (either liquid or gas phase classically). Interestingly, the most advanced FTS technologies that employ either the liquid phase or gas phase are currently in operation in Qatar (Shell's Pearl project and Sasol's Oryx GTL plant).

This project is concerned with the design of an FTS reactor to be operated under supercritical fluid conditions in order to leverage certain advantages over the aforementioned commercial technologies. The conception of designing this novel reactor is based on phase behavior and kinetic studies of the non-ideal SCF media in addition to a series of process integration and optimization studies coupled with the development of sophisticated dynamic control systems. These results are currently under use at TAMUQ to build a bench-scale reactor to verify simulation studies.

To date, our collective research has yielded 8 peer-reviewed publications, more than 8 conference papers and proceedings, as well as numerous presentations in international conferences. It is noteworthy to mention that an advisory board composed of experts from the world leading energy companies follows the progress of this project toward its ultimate goal.


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