Apr

28

Chemists and chemical engineers among us will remember the old Beilstein Handbook of Organic Chemistry — a relic of the pre-internet age that sits humbly on every self-respecting geek's bookshelf next to the CRC Handbook of Standard Math Tables. With gasoline prices approaching record highs (record=363 on 7/11/08; last=330), but natural gas stuck in the basement (7/11/08 price=13.60 ; last=4.55), it's a good time to revisit the conversion of natural gas into hydrocarbon liquids (including gasoline and jet fuel).

The "established" technique for this conversion is the Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis   "popularized" by the Nazis during WWII. However, chemistry has advanced a bit since then — and a quick google reveals that there are several companies with natgas-to-gasoline conversion patents. This story titled "Natural Gas to Gasoline"   appeared on August 25, 2008 — an inauspicious moment in the history of finance, venture capital, and energy prices. With financial conditions rather different today (and every attempt at rallying Natgas failing,) it's probably a good moment to take a fresh look at these ventures.

South Africa-based Sasol is the most obvious company that deserves a closer look.

Other companies mentioned: GeoGas Development Corp, Synfuels International

Other suggestions would be welcome — including the possibility that the very appearance of this post is a great indicator of a top in the gasoline market!


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