The difference between natural gas and gas-to-liquid
Sylvia Williams is the General Manager of Shell’s future fuels, London England. Williams came over to New York as Audi was taking off on their mileage marathon. The diesel being supplied to the vehicles will be Shell diesel. For the first tank of diesel my car, Number 8 with the big red and yellow Shell symbol all over it, my diesel was 100% GTL.
So, what is GTL? What is the difference between GTL and natural gas?
Williams talked to Lou Ann Hammond, CEO, www.carlist.com, about the difference between natural gas and gas-to-liquid (GTL).
GTL is a diesel-like liquid fuel made from vaporous natural gas. Shell is developing GTL through a patented middle-distillate synthesis process developed by Shell. The process breaks the molecules up into smaller molecules then puts them back together over a special catalyst. Long-chain molecules are processed into paraffins and the fuel becomes more homogeneous than crude refined diesel.
The perfect part of GTL is that unlike natural gas the liquid GTL can be added to the diesel infrastructure and go right into a diesel engine. One can use 100% GTL, but no one sees GTL setting up their own infrastructure, so expect GTL to be sold as a performance diesel. This is already being done in Europe. Europe has regular diesel and V-Power diesel. The V-power is about 5-10% more expensive, but it gives better acceleration. It is very popular in Europe because of the advanced technology in many diesel engines.
If you used 100% GTL you would emit 25-40% less particulate matter and 5% less NOX. Your miles per gallon could be 2-3% less, according to how you drive.
Heavy-duty vehicles can see more than double the NOX reduction.
Williams said that CARB recently certified Shell’s GTL with an 11% reduction in NOX versus regular diesel.
GTL is a clear liquid, with no smell. Williams explained that GTL doesn’t have any aromatics.
The United States has become quite aware of natural gas recently because of T Boone Pickens. Honda has a Civic that can be filled with natural gasoline in vapor form in your garage already on the market.
The natural gas Shell uses in the process of producing GTL is from countries that are abundant in natural gas, and where it isn’t otherwise used for domestic purposes. Shell has been producing GTL in Malaysia for over ten years.
Qatar has the third-largest gas field in the world, and that is the reason Shell is producing GTL in that region.