Our Technology

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Gulf Energy’s GFT process utilizes biomass gasification in combination with a Fischer-Tropsch synthesis process. Starting with any carbon-containing feedstock, we first convert this material into...

The Process

Gulf Energy’s GFT process utilizes biomass gasification in combination with a Fischer-Tropsch synthesis process. Starting with any carbon-containing feedstock, we first convert this material into a synthesis gas (or Syngas). These syngas molecules are then configured during the synthesis/configuration process into our desired targeted fuel products. This is followed by a distillation and condensation process, which purifies these compounds into the liquid fuel itself.

History of Gasification

Gasification is not an entirely new technology and has been used in the coal industry for decades.  Some early automobiles (known as wood-gas vehicles) ran on Syngas produced from firewood. In fact due to petroleum rationing during World War II, thousands of these cars throughout Europe were configured to run on syngas produced from firewood. Gasification combined with Fischer-Tropsch synthesis was also used by the Germans in World War II to produce liquid syngas called “producer gas”. The South Africans have also been using this process to produce gasoline from coal since the 1960s. Biomass gasification simply uses biological materials like wood, which has and extremely high carbon content, instead of coal.

How Does It Work?

So how exactly does one go from a pile of wood chips to a drum full of ethanol or other fuel? We must first understand the make-up of the raw materials and also end-product fuels. Alcohols, gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, etc., are all organic compounds. That is, they all contain carbon. Their chemical formulas are different, but they all contain basic carbon and hydrogen atoms.

What is wood made of? Wood is made almost entirely of cellulose (including hemi-cellulose) and lignin. There are trace amounts of other items like metals, and there is of course a tremendous amount of water, but the “woody” mass is essentially cellulose and lignin. Cellulose and hemi-cellulose are made up of glucose (sugar) molecules, while lignin is mostly phenols. Glucose and Phenols are in turn all composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen in varying degrees. You can see that that the basic chemical components for wood are exactly the same as they are for liquid fuels – just in a different form. By breaking up the molecules to release their carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen molecules, we can reconfigure these elements into the target fuel of our choice. This is the basis of our process technology approach.