1. What do you mean when you say "syngas"?
The word is a shortened form of the words "synthesis gas." Syngas is composed mostly of hydrogen, then carbon monoxide, methane, ethane, ethylene, etc., so it is a "synthetic gas."
2. Does your steam reforming process consume more energy than it produces?
Although, the steam / CO2 reforming reaction is endothermic and needs energy to function, the syngas that is produced has a high energy content that is released in a fuel cell that produces more heat and electrical energy than is consumed in the reformer calciner.
3. Why doesn't your steam reforming process use a catalyst?
We do not use a catalyst in the reforming step since most waste streams have some minor species that would possibly deactivate the catalyst, or poison it, and cause it to become ineffective. It is important not to confuse catalytic steam methane reforming with the Intellergy steam / CO2 reforming process. The process equipment and product objectives are quite different.
4. If this process is such a good idea, then why didn't someone think of it before?
Steam reforming dates back at least 120 years. It was explored long ago for coal, and later for oil conversion, to produce a gas intended for illumination. The syngas produced at that time contained organic contaminants and had limited commercial applications. With today's high temperature alloys and high tech ceramics, this chemistry was re-examined by Intellergy and new patents were issued which teaches how to carry out steam reforming at high temperature and with the proper amount of steam and CO2 to produce a clean, rich syngas.
5. Why do you call the process a "reforming" process, when in fact it is a "cracking" process?
The process was named long ago, when the early chemists wanted to use coal, oil, and gas and "reform" the hydrocarbons contained therein into more useful, commercial chemical products. Today, high temperature reforming actually breaks the chemical bonds of the organic waste compounds into simpler elements such as hydrogen and simple compounds such as carbon monoxide, methane, ethane, ethylene, etc.
6. Can I use your steam reforming process to make high purity hydrogen?
Yes, this steam/CO2 reforming process can be used to produce pure hydrogen by extracting it from the hydrogen-rich syngas.
7. If you recycle carbon dioxide in your process, isn't that like perpetual motion?
The recycling of CO2 sounds like it would build up and it would if it did not react in the steam/CO2 reforming process. By reacting, it is consumed and converted to more syngas. The syngas can be used to produce useful carbon-containing chemical co-products, so in this way the carbon coming in as part of the waste feed is converted and sequestered in useful products; thus, greatly reducing or nearly eliminating CO2 emissions to the atmosphere.
8. Is your steam reforming process economical for energy-from-waste projects?
Yes, the process provides a return on investment from 8 to 20%, depending on the size of the plant.
9. Can your steam reforming process convert coal or petroleum coke to syngas?
Yes, we believe this process will convert coal or petroleum coke to syngas, but it has not been demonstrated at a large scale yet.
10. Will your process accept liquid wastes for conversion to syngas?
Yes, the process will accept liquid and hazardous solvent type wastes and convert them to syngas. This can be done along with the input of solid organic waste as well.
11. What is the largest steam reformer your company has built to-date?
The largest commercial system that we built and operated, handled about 2.5 tons/day of organic slurry waste.
12. Is your steam reforming process economical to operate?
Yes, the process is economical to operate with waste heat recovery. Also, the ROI of 8 to 20%, depending on the size of the plant should provide an added incentive for prospective site customers to work with us.
13. If I had the right raw materials, could I use your steam reforming process to make motor fuels like in an oil refinery?
Yes, the syngas produced by this process can be used in commercial Fischer-Tropsch plants to manufacture naphtha, and diesel fuel with a high cetane number and ultra-low sulfur content. In fact, these product fractions are very valuable as refinery blending stock in increasing the value of refinery gasoline and diesel fuel.
14. Is your steam reforming process a type of gasification process?
Yes, our steam/CO2 reforming process is a sub-set of the broader class of gasification processes. In our case, we do not use oxygen, which is more common in oxygen-blown gasification processes for coal and petroleum coke.
15. In your process diagram, isn't the SR superheater just a type of afterburner?
No, the SR superheater that follows the conventional kiln operation does not use oxygen and thus does not involve any type of "burn," but it does operate at high temperature so that the purest possible syngas can be produced.
16. How does your steam reforming process compare with the commercial steam methane reforming process?
Our steam/CO2 reforming process does not use a catalyst and converts waste instead of natural gas, and heavier gases up to butane into syngas. Our process has a solid waste feed-stream instead of natural gas.
17. What other industries use steam and CO2 in reforming processes?
As far as we know, no other industries use our patented steam/CO2 reforming process to convert organic waste to clean syngas.
18. How does your process compare with combined reforming as used in the chemical industry?
Once again, our process does not use a catalyst as the steam methane, and combined reforming processes do. The combined reforming process involves the use in tandem, of a steam reformer, and an auto-thermal reformer, both of which are charged with catalyst pellets to speed the gas phase reactions. The one similarity between the Intellergy process and combined reforming is the recycling of a certain amount of CO2. Traditionally, the combined reforming process has been used where ammonia, urea, and methyl alcohol synthesis processes are co-located in the same chemical plant complex.