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Groundbreaking in Turkmenistan for first full-scale major Haldor Topsøe TIGAS synthetic gasoline plant

In August, a groundbreaking ceremony was held in Ovadan-Depe near the capital of Ashgabad in Turkmenistan to launch the construction of a major plant focused on the conversion of natural gas into synthetic gasoline.

The plant will be based on Haldor Topsøe’s TIGAS (Topsøe Improved Gasoline Synthesis) technology and will become the first full-scale large commercial facility using this technology.

The plant has been awarded by the national gas company Turkmengas, and Topsøe will be working alongside the Japanese contractor Kawasaki Heavy Industry Ltd. and the Turkish contractor Rönesans Turkmen to engineer and construct the facility. The plant will be become operational in approximately four years from now with a daily production capacity of 15,500 bbl of synthetic gasoline.

TIGAS makes it possible to produce high quality, high value gasoline from natural gas, shale gas, associated gas, coal, pet coke or even biomass. The plant in Turkmenistan is extremely important to us, because it is the first large scale project in the world where we can showcase how our technology can help a nation with huge natural gas reserves monetize their natural resources by diversifying beyond conventional gas markets into transportation fuels.

We believe TIGAS is fully viable as a gas monetization option for Turkmenistan and others, and we also believe it represents a monetization alternative for other gas-rich countries in the world.

Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states and is bordered by Kazakhstan to the northwest, Uzbekistan to the northeast and east, Afghanistan to the southeast, Iran to the south and southwest, and the Caspian Sea to the west. It possesses the world’s fourth largest reserves of natural gas, yet its geographical characteristics and difficult access to infrastructure including gas pipelines has made it a challenge to fully leverage this huge natural resource to propel economic development.

Synthetic gasoline is a competitive alternative to refinery gasoline and new energy carriers. Unlike DME, methanol and ethanol, synthetic gasoline meets existing gasoline standards so it can be used as a drop-in fuel. This means that production can take place far from refineries, the existing infrastructure can be used for distribution, and car engines can use it as fuel without modification.

TIGAS. Haldor Topsøe developed the TIGAS process with the intent of minimizing capital and energy costs by integrating methanol/dimethylether synthesis with the methanol-to-gasoline step into a single loop—i.e., without isolation of methanol as an intermediate. In a 2003 technical review for NREL, Spath and Dayton noted that the process was developed with the idea that future plants would be constructed in remote areas for recovery of low-cost natural gas.

The TIGAS process offers a number of benefits, including the elimination of the intermediate production and storage of methanol; the integration of the methanol reaction to form DME immediately; improved conversion efficiency, which reduces steam consumption; and the potential for CO2 removal.

Topsøe’s TIGAS process is based on in-house research and development of process and catalysts.

  • Topsoe dual-function Catalyst System DCK-10. At the core of the combined methanol/DME synthesis is the DCK-10 catalyst system. This catalyst is the latest in a long line of oxygenate synthesis catalysts by Topsoe. DCK-10 ensures high oxygenate conversion rates.
  • Topsoe Gasoline Synthesis Catalyst GSK-10. The GSK-10—a zeolite-type catalyst—operates well in the MTG process. With its high activity and selectivity for producing hydrocarbons in the range C5–C10 (15-19 wt% C3-4, 77-81 wt% C5+), the GSK-10 results in a high yield of quality gasoline. A small fraction of the hydrocarbons are recovered as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).Because the gasoline produced by the GSK-10 catalyst is high octane, it can be used as transportation fuel without further modification. The gasoline is also suited for use as blending stock.
  • Topsoe Gasoline Isomerization Catalyst GIK-10. The GIK-10 offers high activity and high selectivity for the isomerization of heavier gasoline components to deliver a high-octane gasoline fraction.