Technical Advances Boost Velocys GTL Plants


Velocys last week said technical advances learned via a pilot plant enabled it to increase design capacity for its Ashtabula, Ohio, gas-to-liquids pilot to 4,800 barrels per day, though a final investment decision is pending.

The plant uses United Kingdom-based Velocys Fischer-Tropsch technology, which converts natural gas to liquids.

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Neville Hargreaves, Velocys business development manager, confirmed the plant would produce lubricants and waxes, among other products. The Ashtabula plant is targeting high-value specialty products as well as ultra clean transportation fuels, Hargreaves said.

Hargreaves said the companys recently announced progress on the plant includes obtaining the water permit, identifying product off-takers and gas suppliers and having a number of letters of intent in place, and securing letters of support from a major lender and a potential investor in the project.

While continuing to make significant progress, the Ashtabula GTL project has yet to reach a final investment decision, he said. The economics of the Ashtabula project continue to be robust, due to the high value of the specialty products it will produce.

Velocys acquired Pinto Energy and the Ashtabula GTL project in mid-2014. The project was originally announced as a 2,800 b/d plant, with startup then scheduled for early 2016. A new projected startup date has not yet been announced. Once Velocys took over the development of the project, it became apparent that there was clear scope for a larger plant at that location, and that would be economically favorable, Hargreaves said.

Velocys said in a Nov. 26 news release that successfully completed pilot plant tests resulted in a greater than 50 percent increase in capacity, without changing the commercial catalyst formulation or the reactor design. The company incorporated advances made at the pilot plant into the design for the Ashtabula plant.

The technical advances mean that in redesigning the plant to a higher 4,800 b/d capacity, less reactors and therefore less capital expenditures had to be added, he noted, improving plant economics.

Hargreaves noted the Envia Energy GTL plant, also incorporating Velocys Fischer-Tropsch technology, is expected to reach mechanical completion in the first quarter for 2016. Located adjacent to a landfill in Oklahoma City, that plant – funded by Waste Management, NRG Energy and Ventech Engineers – is expected to produce specialty chemicals and renewable fuels.

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