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Stepping on the gas: accelerating catalyst development for cleaner fuels

New catalysts could hold the key to developing cleaner and greener hydrocarbon-based fuels. As part of its mission to produce cleaner fuels for the future, Oxford Catalysts is expanding its laboratory facilities and investing in additional analytical equipment to speed up the development of new catalysts, including new Fischer Tropsch (FT) and hydrodesulphurisation (HDS) catalysts.

These types of catalyst play an important role in processes such as gas to liquids (GTL) and coal to liquids (CTL) which are used to convert feedstocks such as natural gas and coal into liquid fuels. FT catalysts are also important in the emerging field of biomass to liquids (BTL).

The expansion, due to begin at the end of January 2008, will involve a total investment of over £1 million, and will more than double the floor space of the existing laboratory facilities. As part of the project, Oxford Catalysts has already purchased two Amtec Spider16 high throughput screening gas phase reactor systems. These are due to be brought into operation in March and April 2008. To supplement the rigs it already owns, it also plans to purchase three additional rigs, including a small scale Fischer-Tropsch (FT) rig, a reforming test rig, and a hydro-desulphurisation test rig, along with associated analytical and catalyst preparation equipment.

In addition, Oxford Catalysts will be taking on the necessary technicians and catalyst preparation chemists needed to support the new equipment, as well as employing additional senior technology managers. In all, scientific staff numbers are expected to rise from the current 15 to around 23.

The expansion is expected to be completed by July 2008. In the meantime, Oxford Catalysts will be posting regular progress updates on its website.

Derek Atkinson, Business Development Director, Oxford Catalysts says:

“Developing new catalysts can be a time consuming process, and each catalyst has to be custom-made for a particular application to suit a customer's requirements. Having this expanded lab facility will allow us to carry out the necessary testing to provide our customers with the essential information they need about a catalyst more quickly. It will also help us to develop further new and innovative catalysts at a rate that will allow us to meet demand for new applications within the clean fuels area as they continue to arise."

Nina Morgan | alfa
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