With the wide range of expertise available within Johnson Matthey, our portfolio of syngas generation technologies is extensive.
- Steam methane reformers (SMRs)
While this technology has been around for a long time, conventional SMRs have been undergoing a continual process of improvement. The largest methanol plant in the world based on natural gas is the Methanol Holdings (Trinidad) Limited M5000 plant. Based on LPM technology, this plant started up in 2005, produces 5,000 tpd of methanol from a single SMR, and represents the benchmark for future technology development in this field.
- Autothermal reformers (ATR)
Johnson Matthey’s 30+ years of experience was gained on air and oxygen blown ATRs including the Coogee LCM plant in Australia. Our unique design of ATR has proven its reliability and durability over many years in both oxygen and air fired service. All elements from the burner and distribution system, through to the refractory lining, catalyst and refractory support arch, deliver long term trouble-free performance.
- Combined reforming
Combined reforming incorporates the steam methane reforming process and the ATR. The technology is particularly applicable for use on large capacity plants using light natural gas. Two versions of this concept have quite different features.
- Combined reforming with SMR
Combined reforming with an SMR is a way of getting beyond the limitations imposed on plant capacity by the SMR alone. Around 40% of the reforming duty is carried out by the SMR, while the balance is carried out in the ATR. This combination of steam and autothermal reforming can yield an ideal stoichiometric gas for methanol production. The technology stretches the maximum capacity upwards, with capacities in excess of 10,000 tpd being possible with a single SMR the size of the M5000 reformer and a single ATR.
- Combined reforming with Gas heated reforming (GHR)
The GHR is a heat exchanger with catalyst inside the tubes and was originally developed by ICI in the 1980s for use in the ammonia industry, with three units coming into operation followed by the first methanol application in 1994 (the Coogee LCM plant). To date, there is over 50 operating years of experience in four industrial scale units.
Used in a combined reforming process the outlet from an ATR feeds the shell side of the GHR and is forced to flow counter-currently to the feed natural gas and steam flowing inside the tubes. It is the most energy efficient process available with the lowest CO2 emissions and water make up rate.
Like the Compact Reformer, the GHR generates little steam and decouples the power system from the process, so plant designers can choose something other than steam turbines to drive rotating equipment. The use of gas turbines, for example, can give further efficiency benefits, reducing gas consumption and CO2 emissions.
- Compact Reformer
The compact reformer is similar to a conventional reformer in that the chemistry is the same, but the primary heat transfer mechanism is by convection rather than radiation. However, this device significantly increases the process intensity. The compact reformer is a preassemble modular device that is less than a quarter of the weight and size of a conventional reformer. The technology is particularly suited to offshore use or remote locations where transportation and/or site construction are difficult.
- Coal gasification
Coal gasification is an established technology which, in combination with sour shift, acid gas removal and syngas purification, can be readily used to generate syngas for methanol synthesis. Johnson Matthey has catalysts and technologies in sour shift, purification and, of course, methanol synthesis and distillation, and can work with the licensors of the gasification technologies to deliver an integrated coal to methanol production facility.