Methane Catalyzed Diesel – MC Diesel

Regular diesel fuel can be upgraded into premium, cleaner diesel with few emissions, improved energy content, better engine performance, and improved cold weather characteristics by a catalytic system that hydrocracks the fuel in the presence of methane gas. The process takes diesel fuel and places it in a low-temperature and low pressure heated reactor, then diffuses natural gas (methane) through it. As the bubbles of methane gas rise up through the liquid, they carry some of the longer-chain paraffin molecules of the diesel with them. The mix of methane gas and paraffin vapors rise above the liquid level and comes into contact with a set of catalytic metals which both activates the methane and breaks apart the long paraffin chain by severing one of the carbon-hydrogen bonds in the molecules. These paraffin pieces combine with single hydrogen and CH3 parts of activated methane, reforming the paraffin into stable shorter carbon chains. When vapors are re-condensed back into a liquid, there is a reduced quantity of long-chain paraffin and an increase in the total number of carbon atoms in the fuel, resulting in not only a premium diesel but an increase in the total volume of the fuel.

Several versions of the low-temperature, low pressure catalytic system (LTLPCS) have been constructed and used to process multiple types of hydrocarbon feedstocks, including several million gallons of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD). ULSD feedstocks have been processed through LTLPCS reactors at a processing temperature of approximately 300°F, just below the initial boiling point temperature of diesel. The resulting methane-catalyzed (MC) product showed significant changes in characteristics and appearance (light yellow to water white, 30+saybolt color). The analysis of MC Diesel also showed a consistent shift in quantity of longer hydrocarbon chains into shorter chains from the feedstock to finished product.

LTLPCS processed fuel meets all of ASTM D 975 specifications for DFF #1. The above test results show significant improvement in characteristics and also has dramatic decreased cold environment characteristics. It should be noted that sulfur content does not change, however, due to the effect of increasing the total volume, in MC diesel, the overall concentration of sulfur goes down.

GC Analysis

GC analysis was also done on feedstock USLD and MC diesel. The feedstock ULSD showed an average spread of carbon paraffin chain from C6 to C30 with a significant percentage higher than c30. The MC diesel showed an average spread of carbon paraffin chain from C7-C27 with a minimal percentage higher than C27.

Volumetric Increase

The LTLPCS process creates an increase in volume of the final product due to activation of a portion of natural gas (methane) and chemically converting into a liquid fuel. The average increase in volume measured was about 6%. Operating an LTLPCS system with a more effective combination of catalytic metals on a continuous basis could achieve volumetric increases in the 7-10% range. This of course mean pumping more natural gas into the system reactor.

Emissions

The shift in the hydrocarbon chain distribution in MC diesel allows more complete combustion in a diesel engine cycle. This results in reduced carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen exhaust emissions as well as reduced smoke, odor and particulates. Independent emissions testing have been conducted on numerous vehicles running on MC diesel, each of which show significant reductions over both regular diesel and biodiesel.

Conclusion

Lab and GC analysis on ULSD feedstock and resulting MC diesel fuels show that a process LTLPCS makes significant changes in the chemical makeup of the feedstock ULSD, yet the finished MC diesel product can still meet the ASTM d 975 specification for diesel. Reductions in the constituency of long chain paraffin from feedstock diesel to the finished product are very evident from gc examination. Multiple tests on multiple engines running on MC diesel show significant reductions in emissions, confirming the shift in the makeup of the fuel by an LTLPCS has a positive effect on the performance characteristics. Additionally, an LTLPCS reactor gives off nearly zero emissions when processing ULSD into MC diesel, thereby reducing the carbon footprint of the final product.