A team of researchers from the Catalysis Institute at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and Sasol confirmed that they had made advancements in the use of commercial iron catalyst produced cheaply and at large‑scale at Sasol’s Secunda plant.
According to a statement on the UCT website, this will enable conversion of unavoidable or biogenically derived carbon dioxide (CO2) and green hydrogen directly to a variety of green chemicals and jet fuel.
This development is a step in the right direction towards implementing CO2 hydrogenation technology in South Africa.
As per Green Car Congress, an example of the commercial application of this technology is the Secunda plant in Mpumalanga, which converts synthesis gas (a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen) derived from coal gasification and supplemented by reformed natural gas into 160 000 barrels of products every day.
Professor Michael Claeys, the director at UCT’s Catalysis Institute, said: “Sasol and UCT have a longstanding collaboration on the fundamental aspects of FT technology, on both commercial cobalt and iron catalysts, which provides workable solutions for operating plants. The partnership brings together Sasol’s established expertise around FT catalysis and synthesis gas conversion, and UCT’s modelling and in‑situ characterisation capabilities.”
The university has also been working CO2 conversion technology and has built up experience in CO2 hydrogenation. Sasol and UCT have been working on finding ways to use the chemistry to convert CO2 and hydrogen into a variety of useful and green products.
“Conversion of green hydrogen together with CO2, a process called CO2 hydrogenation, is gaining significant interest worldwide and is a promising way to produce sustainable aviation fuels and chemicals which have a significantly lower carbon footprint,” said Dr Cathy Dwyer, the vice president of science research at Sasol Research & Technology.