Engine Reformer Systems for Lower Cost, Smaller Scale Manufacturing of Methanol and Other Gas-to-Liquid (GTL) Products


This invention can be applied to gas to liquid production systems for production of liquid fuels and small scale isolated gas production. It also would be advantageous to utilize this invention for stranded natural gas where there is a substantial natural gas liquid content (propane, ethane, butane) and it is not economically attractive to separate out these molecules because of the small amount of output.

Problem Addressed

Conventional methanol and other gas-to-liquid (GTL) production systems use natural gas or other hydrocarbon gases as input fuels and produce liquids, such as methanol, gasoline and diesel fuel. These systems are typically of substantial size in order to minimize cost, due to substantial economies-of-scale .

Commercial manufacturing plants tend towards the size of "megaplants ." There are issues with these very large plants, including long construction periods and difficulty in predicting markets over the long construction period. In addition, to create this amount of fuel, the plant must be supplied with a considerable amount of reactant. Thus, commercial plants are typically supplied by a pipeline which delivers the large volumes of gas required during the long payback period on this large capital investment.

For situations where less gas is available (e.g. associated gas located far from pipelines, small-scale isolated gas production, or biomass-derived gas) conventional GTL megaplants are not economical. Therefore, it may be desirable to make smaller, lower cost reformers in order to minimize the transportation distance from the collection site; instead perhaps the reformers can be made to be portable, so that they can be transported to the well site. Therefore, there is a need for lower cost, smaller scale reformer systems to be used in the distributed conversion of gas to methanol and other gas to liquid (GTL) products.


This invention pertains to a reformer- liquid fuel manufacturing system that utilizes an internal combustion engine to generate hydrogen-rich gas. The engine operates at very rich conditions. In doing so, it creates an exothermic reaction, which results in the production of syngas. The system uses the energy from the exothermic reaction to rotate a shaft and also applies the heat in the syngas to heat the reactants. A mechanical power plant is in communication with the rotating shaft and can be used to produce oxygen, provide electricity or operate a compressor, as required. The hydrogen-rich gas is supplied to a chemical reactor, which converts the gas into a liquid fuel, such as methanol.


  • Compact
  • Low cost
  • No catalysts required