Core Technologies

Fischer Tropsch (FT)

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The Fischer Tropsch Process

In the Fischer Tropsch process, carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2) gases react to produce a range of mainly paraffinic (alkane) hydrocarbons. The generalised reaction for this process is as follows:

FT big equation1

In Context

JM Davy have collaborated with BP to produce our proprietary fixed-bed Fischer Tropsch (FT) technology – a simple and robust system which forms the heart of our gas-to-liquids (GTL) process.

Unlike slurry reactors, the JM Davy/BP fixed-bed FT reactor has no moving parts and requires no continuous catalyst addition or separation. Instead, the proprietary BP catalyst runs at constant conditions and delivers a high-purity product that is easy to upgrade.

All of these factors amount to a simple and robust process with a high level of reliability and product quality.

Fixed-bed FT Flowsheet

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Process Description

The JM Davy/BP fixed-bed FT technology comprises a series of reaction vessels charged with a proprietary BP catalyst.

Syngas derived from a variety of hydrocarbon feedstocks is suitable for our fixed-bed FT process. JM Davy’s technologies for reforming natural gas to syngas include auto-thermal reforming, steam-methane reforming and compact reforming.

The FT converters are multiple single-pass tubular exchangers containing fixed beds of proprietary catalyst loaded in CANS. The reactant gasses pass through the tubes, making extensive contact with the catalyst. Products, by-products and unreacted syngas move down through the tubes and exit at the converter’s base.

Following pre-heating, the syngas enters the FT converter where H2 and CO react to form paraffinic compounds of various chain lengths:

FT small equation1

The exit stream from the FT converter comprises:

  • Heavy paraffin products (liquid)
  • Light paraffin products (gas)
  • Reaction water vapour
  • Unreacted syngas
  • Minor impurities

Separation of the heavy wax paraffins from the exit stream takes place immediately downstream of the reactor.

The remainder of the stream is gaseous. Cooling separates the light paraffin product and water vapour, leaving significant quantities of unconverted syngas. This stream is recycled back to the FT converter giving an overall conversion of 95%.

Product separation: The heavy liquid hydrocarbons exiting the FT converters collects in wax traps and proceeds to further processing. This ‘wax’ product is a solid at room temperature, with chain lengths of nC20 – nC100+.

The total light hydrocarbon and water by-product are separated in a decanter. The resulting liquid paraffin constitutes a majority of the hydrocarbon product, with chain lengths of nC5 – nC25.

Both the wax and liquid products are free from particulate contamination.

The water by-product contains dissolved gases and traces of light hydrocarbons and is normally recycled back to syngas production. This reduces overall feedstock demand and minimises the hydrocarbon load on the plant effluent treatment facility.

The JM Davy Advantage

The unique JM Davy/BP fixed-bed FT technology is a robust, efficient process that delivers high product quality and the following advantages:

+No moving parts, simple process, high operational reliability:

  • Unlike slurry processes, our FT converters have no moving parts.
  • The catalyst in the process is static, so there is no need for catalyst addition or separation.
  • Catalyst at any given point in the converter runs at constant conditions.
  • Reliable ‘once-through’ design.

+Simple metallurgy, simple construction:

  • Our FT converter design requires no exotic metallurgy and is easily fabricated.

+Proven and reliable hardware:

  • Conventional multi-tubular FT converters provide a robust process.
  • Multiple FT converter fabricators worldwide, who are familiar with manufacturing similar reactors for other JM Davy-related technologies (with over 60 mtpa of existing petrochemicals capacity using this type of reactor design).

+Flexible feedstocks:

  • The JM Davy/BP fixed-bed FT process can operate with purified syngas from a variety of hydrocarbon feedstocks, whether produced from natural gas, coal, petroleum coke, oil residues or biomass.
  • JM Davy offers a range of technologies for reforming natural gas to syngas which includes:·

+Simple water balance and low-waste water emissions:

  • The water produced by the FT process contains low levels of dissolved gases and traces of light hydrocarbons which require no special waste water treatment.
  • When a Davy steam reformer is used to produce the process syngas, the water can be recycled to the reformer to recover the hydrocarbons back into the process.
  • This reduces overall feedstock demand and minimises the hydrocarbon load on the plant effluent treatment facility
Related Processes & Core Technologies

The JM Davy/BP fixed-bed FT technology is the cornerstone of our world-leading gas-to-liquids (GTL) process, which you can explore in more detail here:

Explore our CANS technology in more detail here:

JM Davy offer a wide range of technologies for reforming natural gas to syngas feed for our FT process. Learn more here:


Related Processes

The JM Davy/BP fixed-bed FT technology is the cornerstone of our world-leading gas-to-liquids (GTL) process, which you can explore in more detail here:


Core Technologies

Explore our CANS technology in more detail here:

JM Davy offer a wide range of technologies for reforming natural gas to syngas feed for our FT process. Learn more here: