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Natural gas conversion

For fuel production

The conversion of natural gas into a liquid fuel is carried out using the Fischer-Tropsch process. This is known as GtL (Gas to Liquids) technology.
IFPEN is working to find new catalysts and increase the productivity of the process, the aim being to bring down the costs of the technology and limit its impact on the environment.

The Fischer-Tropsch process also enables the transformation of lignocellulosic biomass into fuels using a thermochemical process (BtL technology – Biomass to Liquids).
With Eni and Axens, IFPEN has developed a Fischer-Tropsch process that improves the yield of products of interest, cuts the production costs of the process and reduces its impact on the environment.

                                 Fischer-Tropsch process pilot unit at IFPEN-Lyon.

Purifying natural gas before turning it into a fuel

Thanks to a reinforcement of its R&I activity over the past five years in the field of adsorbents for the removal of mercury from natural gas, IFPEN has developed a new generation of AxTrap adsorbents, designed to:

  • enhance the performance of the initial product (mercury retention capacity increased by between 15 and 20%),
  • improve the manufacturing process,
  • and better simulate its action with a view to optimizing implementation.

Marketed by Axens, in 2015, this new adsorbent secured a major contract in Australia.


For hydrogen production

The conversion of heavy oils into products of interest, along with the desulfurization of fuels have generated an increase in the demand for hydrogen. It is estimated that this demand could double by 2030.

The gasoline reforming process, present in the majority of refineries, produces hydrogen as a by-product; but this by-product is not sufficient to meet the additional needs of the market.

Steam methane reforming units have already been built – and more will follow – to meet this growing demand.

It is against this backdrop that IFPEN is developing, alongside Heurtey Petrochem, an innovative steam methane reforming technology, known as HyGenSys™.

This innovation is set to reduce steam reforming investment costs, as well as the associated CO2 emissions and footprint.

IFPEN's HygenSys process enables centralized hydrogen production

A pilot unit HyGenSys™ for the process is currently being operated at the IFPEN site in Lyon.


Read more
 + Industrial development > Biofuels and green chemistry

 >> Axens website
 >> Heurtey Petrochem website

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Panorama 2016

"Innovation and climate change: role and position of the refining industry"
 > Download the Panorama 2016 technical reports

Key figure

50 Mt
The current hydrogen demand, 80% of which is destined for refining and ammonia production.
Demand may double by 2030.