Dow, Süd-Chemie to turn syngas into chemicals, fuel

By Ryan C. Christiansen
Web exclusive posted Jan. 29, 2009, at 11:46 a.m. CST

The Dow Chemical Co. of Midland, Mich., has announced it will work with Süd-Chemie Group of Munich, Germany, to develop catalysts that can be used to convert syngas derived from biomass to hydrocarbons for the production of liquid fuels and chemicals. Syngas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, can be produced through the gasification of biomass or waste products, as well as from fossil fuels.

According to Dow, in April the joint research program will begin as Dow scientists in Terneuzen, The Netherlands, and Süd-Chemie scientists in Germany and the U.S. begin research focusing on making the process of converting syngas to hydrocarbons more efficient and economically viable.

"Conversion of syngas based on coal or biomass is a promising route for the scale that Dow needs to have an impact," said Juan Luciano, senior vice president for Dow hydrocarbons and basic plastics.

"For many years, Süd-Chemie has been allocating significant resources in the field of catalysts for alternative feedstock conversion," said Dr. Günter von Au, managing board chairman and chief executive officers of Süd-Chemie. "We are very confident that by partnering with Dow, further efficiency improvement on these processes can be accomplished."

In addition, Dow is working with Houston-based Hunton Energy to establish a gasification facility in Freeport, Texas, which will supply syngas for Dow's Oyster Creek Facility also located there. Dow said the syngas will be produced from petroleum coke, as well as biomass resources, such as wood chips and rice hulls.