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Some results of the OCMOL project

The OCMOL project aims at developing an innovative chemical route adapted to the exploitation of small gas reservoirs from both a technical and an economic point of view. The corresponding process is, among others, based on oxidative coupling of methane followed by its subsequent oligomerization to liquids.

The technical achievements between September 2009 and February 2013 can be described by referring to the 4 vertical subprojects ( i.e. Methane conversion, Separation processes, Syngas to Liquids, Oligomerization) and the subproject on process engineering and economic evaluation: ** Methane conversion ** -> Oxidative coupling Next to classical preparative methods, e.g. impregnation, flame spray pyrolysis and colloidal techniques were applied and testing has been performed at pressures equal to and higher than 1 atm. -> Dry reforming A catalyst with good behavior with respect to coking was developed and tested. ->Process Engineering The design of the thermal integration of oxidative coupling and reforming was based on engineering kinetics taking into account the process control aspects. The construction of test units aimed at the thermal integration of oxidative coupling and reforming is in progress. ** Separation processes ** Different separation scenarios depending on the possible poisoning effect of water and/or CO on the catalysts to be developed were elaborated and modeled. Critical separations were identified. Selective adsorption was selected as prime separation technique to be developed. A large number of candidate sorbent samples have been tested. Composite membranes for dioxygen enrichment have been developed, tested and scaled up. ** Syngas to Liquids ** A standard syngas to oxygenate catalyst was selected as a benchmark for the basic design of the global OCMOL process. Zeolites have been tested over a wide range of conditions for the conversion of oxygenates to C5+ hydrocarbons. A benchmark catalyst has been selected. Single-Event MicroKinetic (SEMK) modeling was applied to describe experimental data and perform industrial reactor simulations. ** Oligomerization ** -> Catalyst development and testing A library of six families covering the full spectrum of potential oligomerization catalysts and consisting of about hundred samples has been tested. The preparative method, e.g. impregnation, colloidally or by mechanical mixing and the calcination procedure were varied systematically for some of the series. A selection of the most promising catalysts was made taking into account effects of the most problematic impurities in the feed. -> Kinetics model development A reaction network has been constructed which accounts fully for the elementary reaction families involved. A first SEMK model describing experimental data on a benchmark catalyst was developed. ** Process Engineering and Economic evaluation ** Material- and energy-balances for each of the individual reactors have been made as well as an integrated process simulation based on a plant capacity of 100 000 Ton / year of methane has been considered for different flow schemes. Life Cycle Assessment and a first Net Present Value analysis was made. CO2 emissions per ton of product are used as a meaningful environmental Key Performance Indicator with other greenhouse gases playing a less important role.