Recent Developments in Cobalt- and Iron- Based Catalysts for Fischer- Tropsch Synthesis
Alaa H. Kababji, Edwin L. Kugler and Dady B. Dadyburjor
Affiliation: Department of Chemical Engineering, West Virginia University, Morgantown WV 26506-6102, USA.
This paper addresses recent technological advances for both cobalt- and iron-based Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis
catalysts. FT technology converts syngas into clean, synthetic liquid fuels by using abundant sources such as coal,
biomass and natural gas. We provide an overview of the latest patent literature and summarize improvements in catalyst
design and chemical promotion through the addition of active metals and structural supports as well as different methods
for catalyst preparation and activation. We also discuss developments in reactor configuration and upstream and downstream
design, and investigate the different application scenarios for both iron and cobalt catalysts. Significant progress
has been realized in the past decade, evidenced by an increased number of patents focusing on catalyst and reactor advances
and their effect on increasing catalyst activity and product yield and selectivity. The process can be carried out in
large-scale units such as slurry bubble columns or fluidized-bed reactors, or in small compact microchannel reactor units.
Combining the FT catalyst and reactor technology with innovative ways for syngas production and product upgrading to
produce ready-to-use fuels results in a versatile FT technology that can be remotely applied on land or sea. This versatility
can provide a long-term solution to counter the persistent increase in crude oil prices and can dramatically impact the
competency and economical production of fuels worldwide.
Keywords: Cobalt catalysts, co-precipitation, Fischer-Tropsch catalysis, fluidized-bed reactors, iron catalysts, incipient wetness
impregnation, Sasol, slurry-bed reactors.
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