There are, however, new developments being made that could hopefully lower the costs of utilizing synthetic fuel. The inspiration for the technology of the future has come from an unlikely source from the past, namely, audio cassettes.
A New Catalyst
Synthetic fuels are usually made with the Fischer-Tropsch process, a German innovation that has been around for decades. The case used to be that the process was too expensive when compared with cheap and plentiful petroleum, but of course the decreasing supply and rising price of oil is changing that, prompting a revisit to the Fischer-Tropsch process and synthetic fuel. The problem of expense is because hundreds of tons of cobalt are needed as a catalyst in the Fischer-Tropsch process, which is very expensive.
To remedy this, Total S.A., a major oil and gas company approached researchers from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) to produce a more affordable catalyst that can be prepared on a very large scale, while still performing as well as cobalt.
The UvA team was inspired by the method that companies such as TDK used in the 60’s for manufacturing magnetic tapes for audio cassettes. The recording materials used in these cassettes were polymer-based tapes containing cobalt-doped iron oxide particles.
Now, after a couple of years they seem to have achieved their goal: a cost-effective, dependable and efficient catalyst that can be made in large quantities. They created catalysts that are nanometre-thin cobalt shells on iron oxide particles. Thus far they have proved to be excellent Fischer-Tropsch catalysts, providing exceptional diesel fractions at reduced costs.
With the plenitude of available natural gas, the environmental benefits, and now more economically viable costs, the energy landscape could very well be changed by synthetic fuel.
Queenie Bates is an avid writer and researcher, with a particular interest in the area of sustainability. She tried to stay up to date by researching whitepapers and attending oil conferences.
About the Author:
This article is contributed by Queenie Bates and posted by Rizwan Ahmad Author and founder of cyberockk.com, He is a tech blogger from India and he loves to share his thoughts by writing articles on this site to the different topics related to technology world,