Engineers International of Pasadena,
Texas, to develop methods of installing
the reactor units in modules that could
be built in controlled environments and
shipped to the final plant sites.
A single Velocys commercial micro-channel reactor, with four cores, produces 175 barrels per day of products from
around 1.75 million cubic feet of natural
gas per day. To get more volume several
reactors are arranged in a processing
train and a number of processing trains
are added in parallel. A plant making four
thousand barrels per day of products, like
that planned for the North Slope, would
need about 40 million cubic feet of gas
per day. Much larger plants are possible,
too, with capacities up to fifteen thousand
barrels per day.
An advantage for Velocys’ approach
is that the investment scale is smaller
and incremental, with plants being expanded as demand grows. Because of
that there is less financial risk. Modular
construction and standardized design
reduce the work on site, avoiding delays
caused by weather. With the modular
construction approach a plant can be
built in eighteen to twenty-four months,
with additional reactor modules added
incrementally to increase production as
the product demand develops.
Velocys now has four commercial-scale
plants using its process in advanced
engineering and development, three in
the United States and one in the UK.
The first plant that will be operating
is a joint-venture by Velocys, NRG Energy, Ventech Engineers International,
and Houston-based Waste Management. The plant is now under construction adjacent to Waste Management’s
East Oak landfill in Oklahoma City. The
first plant will be in operation in early
2016 using both landfill methane co-fed
with pipeline natural gas.
Three other commercial-scale projects
are in the queue behind the Oklahoma
City project. In one of these, in Ashtabula, Ohio, Velocys will be the plant owner
and operator, and in two others Velocys
will be the technology-supplier.
The Ashtabula plant will start up at
more than four thousand barrels per
day and will purchase natural gas from
shale gas producers in the Marcellus and
Utica shale gas plants in Pennsylvania
and eastern Ohio. Velocys believes the
Ashtabula plant can eventually be scaled
up to ten thousand barrels per day.
Another project, where Velocys is the
technology-supplier, is a waste-to-liquids
project in the UK, GreenSky London,
that is being developed by Solena Fuels.
British Airways has contracted to buy
jet fuel made in the plant, which is being
designed to make two thousand barrels
per day of products. The GreenSky plant
is expected to be operating in 2017.
Another biofuels plant under development, again with Velocys as the
technology supplier, is a project by Red
Rock Biofuels in Oregon that will use
forestry waste to make jet fuel using
Velocys’ technology. Southwest Airlines
has signed contracts to purchase jet fuel
from the plant. The plant would have a
capacity to produce one thousand barrels per day and is also expected to be
operating in 2017. R
Mike Bradner is publisher of the
Alaska Legislative Digest.