[Gasification] DIY Fischer Tropsch catalysts

JHasty jay at allpowerlabs.org
Tue Jan 18 22:28:47 CST 2011

Hi All,

Within the last few months, I have built 2.5 meter reactor column suitable
for Fischer Tropsch (FT) and even methanol reactions. I am now experimenting
with making FT catalysts and running them in controlled conditions.
Currently, I am running them under a calibrated gas stream of 20% CO, 20% H2
balanced with N2. This initial set of experiments in controlled conditions
are meant to simulate the major components of the gas created by our air
blown gasifier so that other variables such as flow rate, catalyst activity,
optimal temperature and pressure ranges, and alpha can be determined. This
first experimental gives us a set of control data to then compare to the
gasifier's gas under real conditions coupled with possibly a simple yet
strategic gas clean up and/or steam reformation step to whatever extent it
could be needed.

The most common and cheap transition metal oxide for FT catalysis is iron
oxide. One glance at the floor of a metal shop and sourcing iron oxide
catalyst seems like a perfectly reasonable proposition. However, most of the
literature indicates there are surface characteristics and other details
that matter as much as the raw material type used. Other important factors
are things like: purity, particle size, porosity, pretreatment regimes,
addition of promoters and/or supports (such as alumina oxide), and
co-catalysts such as cobalt/copper/etc will allow for higher selectivity
(meaning less deviation across the possible range of products) higher
catalyst activity thus higher efficiency in carbon conversion to liquid

These considerations for FT catalyst making do not necessarily render DIY
catalyst making impossible, but lack of attention to these details will
definitely challenge activity of the FT reaction as a whole.

Earlier FT experiments have used magnetite for the catalyst to synthesize
anywhere in the range from diesel, methane, and/or wax as a liquid product
from wood gas/coal gas. Magnetite, is naturally magnetic iron ore, the
'black rust', Fe3O4, also iron (II,III) oxide. I am trying to recreate what
these earlier experiments may have achieved. Like many of us that are
interested in reading about this technologies we all start at the FT
archives here: http://www.fischer-tropsch.org/

Find the rest of the article here on ALL Power Lab's Forum site:


Julia Hasty
ALL Power Labs
Office:  510-575-1129
All Power Labs Order Line:  510-845-1500
Email:  jay at allpowerlabs.org
Skype:  JayAPL

1010 Murray St.
Berkeley, CA 94710
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