Gas to Liquids

Here is an overview of the process. :slight_smile: It is part of the “biofuel” program, which includes ethanol, but these types of biofuels are included as well. There are numerous companies around the globe working on it. In fact, last I heard a couple of them were in the 80/barrel range for their fuel. They produce mostly the bio jetfuels.

The old school method is to use a closed retort for making charcoal/biochar… then use fractional distillation to sort out the components you want. There are a few people that do it. The yield of the liquid isn’t super high.

The OTHER method is to use electric…I think siemans was the company that had the electric to liquids method. I am sure there are a couple of others as well, and our government is promoting that as well for “long term” electric storage. It is a long term plan, as the price of solar keeps dropping below grid costs in certain areas, we will get to the point, where we will have too much at certain times of the day.

Just to see the potential for the problem. About 4 years ago, I did a rough calculation. It ended up to be like if 10% of the people who owned like more then 3 acres in the rural US, installed 1/3 of an acre of solar panels, it would be enough electric to meet US electric consumption.


This is very interesting. Now I wish I remembered more from science class.
What doesn’t make sense to me is if one is reducing wood down to H, CO and methane, how can one use fractional distillation and come up with alcohol, gasoline etc?

It is actually that process is called destructive distillation. Basically you heat up wood hot enough to boil off everything, which includes a lot more then just H, CO and methane, condense it. You get a substance called pyrolysis oil, bio-oil, biocrude or one other of 12 different names, that they made really hard to google to find information on it. :slight_smile: Then you have to fraction out the parts.

Here is a paper on it…

The Hornito was probably one of the better small designs. It used a rocket stove to heat barrels, and had some excess gas to run a generator.


The pyro oil aka woodvinegar, i get during making charcoal😊
the char aka charcoal or carbon, i use for my gasifier…

the first process is mostly called pyrolisiss , depending your temperatures, you get different yields from gas, liquids and carbon.

besides distilling the condensate, there is also the fischer trops process, for turning some gascomponents in liquid fuels


More Discussion

I would like to see more discussion of small scale gas to liquids technology.

IMO, this has good potential for making wood gas storable, and more user friendly in transportation applications.

I have spent some time in the past researching it, but don’t recall where I found the various information sources. It would be nice to build a library of sources on this topic since they seem to be fairly scattered and obscure.

The basic idea is described on the wiki: Gas to liquids - Wikipedia

The most prevelant way of accomplishing GTL is the Fischer–Tropsch process, which involves passing the gas over a catalyst bed.

I recall finding one serious experiment with small scale Fischer-Tropsch (by some people at GEK? maybe). However, at the time I was researching it, their experiment had not proved successful.

Anybody know the current state of this technology, and whether anybody has successfully done it on a small scale in a practical way?

I do plan to experiment at some point, before we get to the FT process we will attempt the Sabatier process first. This uses the same reactor, however engine exhaust gases get introduce in with the gas to produce CH4. Im hoping we can do this in a closed loop system. The pressure required in this process I think is much less than that is required for the FT process.

To perform the FT process, temperature and high amounts for pressure are required. The liquids energy yield is very small compared to the energy needed to be brought to create these processes for the desired fuels, gasoline and kerosene.

Our next generation development I am optimistic we will be able to run fuel cell technologies directly. This is more desirable as the gas outputs are not an issue inside a fuel cell. It wont stall like an engine. Cogeneration of the heat is another good bi product of the fuel along with drinkable water. This reality will give you an easy method of storing the gas in the form of electricity (battery storage) and hot water. This is the best method even at today development level. If you need to store it convert it to electric first or hot water. :fire:


Matt - Sounds interesting. I am not familiar with the Sabatier process, but am googling it now.

It is my understanding that the energy inputs for FT are not a problem for large scale reactors because the reaction is sufficiently exothermic beyond a certain scale. However, it may be a problem on small scales.

I hear what you are saying about battery storage. However, in my experience, storage of electricity is the weak link in nearly all alternative energy schemes. Batteries are expensive, easily damaged, and comparatively short lived.


This is true; however, woodgas systems will never, be practical without battery storage. If you run a gasifier 24/7 it will get old very fast and abandoned. Deep cycle gel batteries are the way to go and are not too expensive, if you can afford a gasifier system, $800 in batteries every two to four years is a bargain for the ease they bring. This also makes it plug in play with wind and solar farther making gasification more practical. We put in battery protection systems, dump load resistors and monitoring kits. Don’t listen to old myths about lead acid batteries the technology is better and is here now. Lift truck batteries last forever, and abused daily. They are no different than any other battery technology.


Don’t get me wrong. I am a believer (and user of) battery storage. I think it is fine (or at least the best alternative going) for energy storage over a span of hours or days.

When I say long term storage, I am thinking in terms of years.

Easily portable,storeable, usable, energy with a long shelf life is like money in the bank (or better, actually; especially these days).

That is kind of the perspective from which I am approaching this topic.


Also, I am aware that many would say that wood meets all of those criteria. And that is true. You can build up a nice “energy nest egg” by simply cutting and storing wood.

There are other alternatives as well. For example, I have about 60 tons of coal piled up in the yard which I acquired at a good price (free). I figure that stuff will last a thousand years, if I don’t burn it all.

But convenience and energy density are also considerations.

And in those categories, it is hard to beat liquid hydrocarbons.


Yes unfortunately nothing will last for ever. For right now that just is not the reality, off grid energy independence is not free energy. It will for sure break and need maintenance and repair and it will cost money.

But I do know that there are new groundbreaking battery technologies on the way You will soon have multiple choices to choose from as well. I would give this a time of 5 years, I just hope this is not another one that will fall demise to these short term low gas prices. Right now many of these companies are ready for production phase. This will require investors to bring funding to the table.


sorry , wrong thread

Long term years storage.
Easily portable, storable, usable, energy with a long shelf life . . .
Then hippy-skippy right on past always self-degrading liquids to the condensible propanes, butanes gaseous groups.
Off the shelf on the user/hardware’s.
Very well known storage, handling, heat and engine characteristics.

And still there is a reason as long as ANY in-ground base HC sources are available that much less dense bio-mass HC’s based manufactured fuels will be just like man-made diamonds.
Bleed a bit more and, ground sourced diamonds can still be had, cheaper (discounting the bloods of course).

GTL will remain smoke and mirrors distractions.
Steve Unruh


Hey Kyle,

Here is a link to one of the battery technologies in development and on the way. We had a renewable energy conference here in Michigan with battery technologies as its main focus. Robert is doing this development for one of the companies. He is one of the experts in graphene development.

Here is a DIY video if your into experimenting.

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Steve - Yea. I think I said that. In reference to propane, at least. However, I put them in the liquid category, since they are stored in liquid form at reasonable pressures and temperatures.

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Matt - Yea. There are some exciting possibilities out there for better storage of electrical energy. My remarks are based on what is available in current technology. If and when that stuff becomes commercially available at a reasonable price, it could definitely be a game changer.

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Yup, Im going to build some stuff too, Ive been researching solid oxide fuel technology for a long time. Ive been wanting to try and make one for ever. The components are now available to readily purchase, most of the stuff you can now get on Ebay and Amazon. :fire:


Interesting stuff…? My long term fuel storage is kept on the stump. With time it increases.




I am going to look around for a few of the links regarding micro-scale FT and post them here for reference.

Here are the first ones from Gek.

Here’s a video showing their setup.