The feasibility of high synthesis gas conversion over ruthenium promoted iron-based Fischer Tropsch catalyst
One of the very promising synthetic fuel production strategies is the Fischer-Tropsch process, founded on the Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis, which owes its discovery to the namesake researchers Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch. The Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis (FTS) converts via complex polymerisation reaction a mixture of CO and H2 over transition metal catalysts to a complex mixture of hydrocarbons and oxygen containing compounds with water as major by-product. The mixture of CO and H2 (termed syngas) may be obtained by partial oxidation of carbon containing base feedstocks such as coal, biomass or natural gas via gasification or reforming. The Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process thus presents the opportunity to convert carbon containing feedstocks to liquid fuels, chemicals or hydrocarbon waxes, which makes, for instance, the monetisation of stranded gas or associated gas a possibility. The FT-process is typically carried out in two modes of operation: low temperature Fischer-Tropsch (LTFT) and high temperature Fischer-Tropsch (HTFT). LTFT is normally operated at temperatures of 200 – 250 °C and pressures of 10 – 45 bar to target production of high molecular weight hydrocarbons, while HTFT is operated at 300 – 350 °C and 25 bar to target gasoline production. The catalytically active metals currently used commercially are iron and cobalt, since product selectivity over nickel is almost exclusively to methane and ruthenium is highly expensive in addition to requiring very high pressures to perform optimally. Fe is much cheaper, but tends to deactivate more rapidly than Co due to oxidation in the presence of high H2O partial pressures. One of the major drawbacks to using Fe as FT catalyst is the requirement of lower per pass conversion which necessitates tail gas recycle to extend catalyst life and attain acceptable overall conversions. A more active or similarly active but more stable Fe-catalyst would thus be advantageous. For this reason promotion of a self-prepared typical LTFT Fe-catalyst with Ru was investigated. A precipitated K-promoted Fe-catalyst was prepared by combination of co-precipitation and incipient wetness impregnation and a ruthenium containing catalyst prepared from this by impregnation with Ru3(CO)12. The catalysts, which had a target composition of 100 Fe/30 Al2O3/5 K and 100 Fe/30 Al2O3/5 K/3 Ru, were characterised using XRD, SEMEDX, ICP-OES, TPR and BET N2-physisorption, before testing at LTFT conditions of 250 °C and 20 bar in a continuously stirred slurry phase reactor.