Mention the Fischer-Tropsch process, and probably most chemists and historians would raise their eyebrows. A chemist probably knows that it is possible to produce hydrocarbons from a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. The historian thinks about World War II where the Germans were short of fuel but the Fischer-Tropsch process made it possible to produce synthetic diesel fuel on a large scale.
“We use similar chemical processes to produce very clean synthetic diesel fuel. These types of synthetic paraffin oils are not toxic and are biodegradable. The result in an engine is a much cleaner emission than crude oil-based diesel,” says Andreas Eklund, one of the founders of EcoPar.
“We first thought of building plants to make synthetic paraffin oil-based on biogas, but instead we focused on natural gas as a raw material,” continues Eklund. “We have a patented method where natural gas is liquefied and by modifying one of the molecules, the product properties make it resistant to cold. EcoPar, can therefore be used in the Arctic regions.”
Cleaner emissions from vehicles
“The world is moving towards a crude oil shortage with increasing prices of fossil fuels. New eco-friendly raw materials, manufacturing processes and products are becoming increasingly important,” says Eklund. “If you compare our synthetic diesel fuel with crude oil-based diesel fuel (MK1: class 1), our reduction of carcinogens emissions is over 90 percent. Emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) are reduced by 5 to 25 percent in a heavy diesel engine, and emissions of NO2 are up to 50 percent lower. EcoPar also provides reduced emissions of particles and soot – an advantage in work environments.”
“A life cycle analysis shows that the net carbon dioxide emissions go down by 30 to 50 percent with EcoPar. This is related to the fact that natural gas contains more hydrogen and less carbon than crude oil. We want, through our process, to help reduce the waste of gas through flaring in the world’s oil fields.”
The synthetic diesel fuel from EcoPar meets the U.S. standard for diesel fuel ASTM D975, and the European standard EN 590, making it approved for use in diesel engines. Fuel consumption is usually unchanged or slightly lower with EcoPar. The fuel has undergone rigorous testing in different climates and can withstand low temperatures (-30 ° C). In addition, the product is tested on fish, mussels, algae and crustaceans and has shown that it is not toxic to aquatic organisms. Overall, these characteristics facilitate storage and use near sensitive waterways and ecosystems.
A number of companies and about 70 municipalities in Sweden already use EcoPar in their vehicles, machinery and equipment.
Alternative raw materials
“With the help of the Fischer-Tropsch process, we can use different types of raw materials. The important thing is that they are energy dense and contain carbon. Biogas sources are still small but very interesting. Another feedstock is natural gas flared off oil fields in Siberia, the Middle East and Africa. According to the World Bank, 150 million tons of natural gas is burned annually to no avail – compared to Sweden that consumes 3-4 million tons of diesel fuel each year. We are also developing liquid synthetic fuels from agricultural and plastic waste,” concludes Eklund.
The article was published in March 2013