Flare-to-fuels tech company Greyrock highlights environmental benefits of process in new study

Greyrock air to fuel technology. Image: Greyrock Energy

Greyrock Energy has completed an international research study in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to determine the potential reduction of greenhouse gases and criteria pollutant emissions from the conversion of flare gas directly to synthetic fuels.

Greyrock's conversion process, called Flare-to-Fuels, was used as the technology for the study. The process converts methane and other wellhead gases that would otherwise be burned or flared into a premium synthetic diesel fuel and a synthetic gasoline blendstock.

While the Greyrock synthetic diesel fuel can be used neat (without blending), when compared to the use of petroleum derived diesel, a blend of 20 per cent Greyrock synthetic diesel and petroleum derived diesel was found to significantly improve engine performance, increase fuel economy and reduce emissions.

This blend was also found to reduce criteria air pollutant emissions by an average of 28 per cent, 18 per cent, 24 per cent and 5.5 per cent for hydrocarbons, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides from 1996 to 2015 diesel vehicles.

The results of the study were published in the International Journal of Energy and Environmental Engineering.

There is a global potential to produce up to 71.1 billion litres of synthetic fuel per year from flare gas, notes Greyrock. The study further established that the beneficial use of globally available flare gas for the production and use of synthetic fuel could reduce worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide and methane by up to 356 and 5.96 million metric tonnes/year, respectively.

This represents a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Criteria emissions could also be reduced by up to 23.3, 0.37, 42.4 and 61.3 mil¬lion metric tonnes/year globally for carbon monoxide, particulates, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons, respectively. These clean mobility solutions may be realized without any changes to existing automotive infrastructure, the company said.

Greyrock developed the Direct Fuel Production technology and GreyCat catalyst, enabling distributed production of clean liquid fuels from a variety of resources including natural gas, natural gas liquids, flare gas, bio-gas, biomass residues, carbon dioxide and other wasted and low-value resources.

The California-based company has also been working with Canadian company Carbon Engineering to produce synthetic fuels using CO2 scrubbed from the atmosphere and renewable hydrogen in an industrial process using a Greyrock M-Class fuel production plant.

In June, Carbon Engineering published a peer-reviewed paper showing CO₂ can be captured from the atmosphere for less than US$100 per tonne, demonstrating for the first time a scalable and cost-effective solution for removing CO₂ from the atmosphere.