Fischer Tropsch wax is a methylene polymer, an alkane synthesized using syngas or natural gas. Fischer Tropsch wax with high melting point (generally higher than 85°) is mainly composed of straight-chain, saturated high-carbon alkanes with relative molecular masses of 500-1000, which gives this chemical a fine crystal structure, high melting point, narrow melting point range, low oil content, low needle penetration, low mobility, low melt viscosity, hardness, wear resistance and high stability.
At present, there are about 30 coal-to-oil projects in China, and the representative ones are China Shenhua Coal-to-oil Chemical Company Limited’s direct coal liquefaction project of one million tons, Shenhua Ningxia Coal’s first domestic coal indirect liquefaction demonstration project, and Inner Mongolia Yitai Coal-to-oil Company Limited’s coal indirect liquefaction project. The others are Shenhua Ningxia Coal 4 million tons indirect liquefaction project, Yitai Yili 5.4 million tons coal-to-oil project, Lu’an 1.8 million tons coal-to-oil project, Yankuang Yulin 1 million tons coal-to-oil project, Yufu Energy Guizhou 6 million tons coal-to-oil project, Jingneng Xilingolmeng 5 million tons coal-to-oil project, Inner Mongolia Wakiji Chemical 100,000 tons per year of Fischer Tropsch wax refining and 20,000 tons of residual wax refining project.
At present, two companies have better industrialized Fischer Tropsch synthesis units, namely Sasol of South Africa and Royal Dutch Shell (Shell). These two companies have built several sets of different types of synthesis units using their respective developed chemical synthesis processes. By the end of 2015, Sasol’s supply of high melting point Fischer-Tropsch waxes was around 70,000 tons/year and Shell’s supply of high melting point Fischer-Tropsch waxes was around 50,000 tons/year. Germany Evonik Group (Evonik) is one of the world’s major Fischer-Tropsch wax suppliers, which does not have its own Fischer-Tropsch wax synthesis plant and mainly modifies imported high melting point Fischer-Tropsch synthetic crude waxes, and has developed VESTOWAX products, including hard alkane, oxidized and partially saponified waxes and other series.
Production status in China: China’s coal-based Fischer-Tropsch wax synthesis technology with independent intellectual property rights was successfully developed by Sinotech Synthetic Oil Technology Company, with three sets of demonstration units, namely Yitai, Lu’an and Shenhua Group synthetic oil demonstration units. All three units have been under construction since 2006 and have been put into commercial operation, but all three units mainly produce diesel and naphtha. Among them, Shanxi Lu’an Coal-based Synthetic Oil Co., Ltd. produced high melting point Fischer-Tropsch wax in line with South Africa’s Sasol standard through process improvement in May 2014, filling the technology gap in this field in China; meanwhile, Inner Mongolia Yitai’s new 1.2 million tons new plant is in trial operation. However, the few high-end high melting point Fischer-Tropsch waxes used in China are still mainly dependent on imports, which mainly include Shell’s SX-100 and SX-105, Sasol Wax‘s A-series, H-series and EnHance series, and VESTOWAX’s EH- and S-series, C-series and J-series.
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