Published: November 1995
This report evaluates three routes for the production of synthesis gas (syngas) with an H2:CO ratio of 2:1. The three routes are steam reforming of natural gas, partial oxidation of natural gas, and partial oxidation of a vacuum residue feedstock. Our evaluations indicate that the natural gas partial oxidation route offers the lowest capital investment and production costs at the assumed relative prices of feedstocks and by-product credits. However, natural gas steam reforming becomes the most attractive option if the surplus coproduct hydrogen (which is an inherent feature of the route) can be disposed of at a chemical (instead of an assumed fuel) value. Syngas production by partial oxidation of vacuum residue is an option that is frequently practiced in locations where natural gas is not readily available.
We also present a comprehensive technical review that focuses on the steam reforming and partial oxidation technologies. The review includes the main new developments in steam reforming catalysts, recent advances to improve steam reforming thermal efficiencies, and refinements in the design of partial oxidation reactors. This report will be useful to companies that produce or consume syngas and to both chemical- and energy-based companies (or equivalent government organizations in various countries) that have a long-term interest in the potential conversion of syngas to various chemicals and liquid fuels.