As the organiser of the ICIS Innovation Awards
each year, it's always rewarding to see winning companies making progress with their innovations. This week, Oxford Catalysts, winner of the SME category in 2009 has raised a further £21m in funding to progress its innovative microreactor technology that can be used to convert biomass and biowaste into syngas ready for conversion into fuels and materials.
The technology is particularly appropriate as it enables the conversion to be carried out on a local scale, without transport of the biomass. It can also be used to convert stranded fossil fuels such as shale gas.As the UK startup company says, "with moves towards development of vast shale gas reserves in North America, the increasing focus on the utilisation of stranded and associated gas and the growing interest in biomass-to- liquids (BTL) and waste-to-liquids (WTL) technology, the need to develop distributed technologies such as microchannel processing is more important than ever."
The microreactor is very compact
Microchannel reactors – compact reactors that have channels with diameters in the millimetre range lie at the heart of microchannel processing technology because they intensify chemical reactors, enabling them to occur at rates 10 to 1000 times faster than in conventional systems.
The Oxford Catalysts Group’s FT technology to produce biofuels has been demonstrated in Güssing, Austria since the summer of 2010 in partnership with SGC Energia, SGPS, S.A. (SGCE). In addition, the Group’s steam methane reforming (SMR) technology is due to be demonstrated in summer 2011 along with the Group’s FT technology in a six barrel per day integrated gas-to-liquids (GTL) pilot plant at a Petrobras refinery in Fortaleza, Brazil.
The Group received its first order for a commercial scale FT microchannel reactor and highly active FT catalyst in December 2010. It expects that further commercial sales of its microchannel and catalyst technologies to multiple partners will follow in 2011.