Talk:Fischer–Tropsch process

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i hate wiki[edit]

i dont understand any word from this who writing this


The article speaks of conversion of carbon monoxide to alkanes, from coal to synthetic petrol. But how do you get the carbon monoxide from coal? This simple basic information is missing and jeopardizes the whole understanding.

From start to end, this article is a horrible mess, readable only to a chemist with a knowledge of the process. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:4021 December 2011 (UTC)

You get it the easy way, BURN hot with short oxygen supply. The hotter it is it creates mostly CO and heat. Seniorsag (talk) 13:34, 18 December 2012 (UTC)


This page really needs an image that actually represents anything. The current image merely shows a succession of black boxes, all of which are oddly named -- Ec5618 11:53, Jun 2, 2005 (UTC)

I like the three pipes and a no smoking sign labelled as a pilot process plant. "LOOK AT OUR PILOT PROCESS PLANT! YOU CAN LEARN A LOT FROM OUR THREE PIPES AND A NO SMOKING SIGN!"; I'm half tempted to remove the picture because of its utter ridiculous uselessness. Without the caption, it could just as easily be a picture of a paper mill, an oil refinery, or a particularly ambitious office building.SJ Zero (talk) 12:57, 17 September 2009 (UTC)

Suggestions: (i) take your medications, (ii) find improved images and replace those that you find deficient, (iii) go kick a wall.--Smokefoot (talk) 13:23, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
So sorry. In the future I'll be sure to only write using Smokefoot-approved sentences.SJ Zero (talk) 02:09, 23 September 2009 (UTC)

Process overview image[edit]

I removed the image of the process overview because while it looks like the copy that was uploaded to Wikipedia was from a U. S. government site, the original is acutally from the web page of Syntroleum which would make it copyrighted. You can verify the origin of the image by the fact that this image shows the syngas from the ATR being diluted with N2 which is something that is characteristic of this company's process.

If I am wrong about the copyright status, please correct me on this. Mr D. Logan 03:20, 13 September 2005 (UTC)

Can you cite anything else than the N2 doping to determine the origin? - CHAIRBOY () 03:23, 13 September 2005 (UTC)
If you follow the link that I posted, you can see that they have a higher quality version of the picture (and animated!) on Syntroleum's website. I am also pretty sure that no other company's process is able to handle a diluted syngas stream making it rather unlikely that they would put that in a process diagram.

Suggestion to page author[edit]

I cannot see where the step from coal to Syngas is discussed, nor where the excess CO2 comes from in the overall process from coal to diesel. The Fischer-Trope process itself doesn't show any CO on the output side of the equation. Since this CO production is one of the major disadvantages of the process, I think it would be useful to outline that preliminary step. Hsfrey 05:40, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

This article isn't about the Global Warming scam. (talk) 11:58, 21 May 2008 (UTC)

CO2 comes when carbon is combusted. this may come from any process where oxygen is added. for example in the gasifier, oxygen (air) is added to provide the heat for the process. this is not needed chemically but is a cheap way to provide heating. SeveriG (talk) 12:23, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

FT in Nazi Germany[edit]

Fischer-Tropsch was widely used in Nazi Germany but it was not the only way to produce synthetic fuels from coal. The other one was direct coal liquefaction, which accounted for an even larger fraction of the production of fuels. In 1944 in the Reich there were 18 direct liquefaction plants vs. only 9 FT plants.

Source: Cleaner Coal Technology Programme (October 1999). "Technology Status Report 010: Coal Liquefaction" (PDF). Department of Trade and Industry (UK). 

Hispalois 16:03, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

That link doesn't seem to work. And may I ask what your reason for posting this is? -- Ec5618 16:08, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
Oooops, you are right, here is the updated link. My point is that the current version of the article says that in 1944 Germany "synthetic fuel production reached more than 124,000 barrels per day from 25 plants", which is true but the way it is written it leads to thinking that all 25 plants were Fischer-Tropsch. In actual fact, only 9 of them were FT whereas the majority (18, according to my source) were direct liquefaction. I propose that the article be rewritten to avoid this misunderstanding. Since it is a peer-reviewed article, I preferred to submit the information and get feed-back before editing the article myself. Hispalois 21:09, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
Think you might find that this process was obsolete by the start of the 2nd world war and it was the 'Coalite' process that had taken over. From memory, I think they sold the pattern in 1936. --Aspro 21:03, 17 February 2007 (UTC)

FT in South Africa[edit]

While FT liquid fuels were produced during the Apartheid era - Apartheid and the sanctions that ultimately resulted from that policy were not the cause of SA using FT - it was simply its lack of oil resources.

"The world’s only commercial integrated coal-to-liquid fuels and chemicals are currently produced in South Africa by the Sasol company, and there currently exist two commercial GTL plants -- Shell in Malaysia and PetroSA in South Africa -- a third one is now being commissioned by Sasol in Qatar. The history of Sasol’s success stretches back many years and in retrospect it is a development based on astute planning, foresight, willpower, and fortuitous timing. This history is covered briefly, and it provides some lessons for alternate liquid fuel technology commercialization.

A white paper was submitted to the South African Parliament in 1927, indicating the fact that since no oil has been discovered in South Africa, the new German FT invention held promise for South Africa. Dr. Fischer visited South Africa and plans were developed to establish a production facility, and at that time there was no issue of political pressures or limited access to internationally traded oil.

With the advent of the Second World War, these negotiations were interrupted and in 1950 the “South African Coal, Oil and Gas Corporation” was established as a private sector company under government funded sponsorship of the Industrial Development Corporation. A commercial CTL plant was erected on a green field site about 50 miles south of Johannesburg at a place named Sasolburg, and it began producing synfuels in 1955......

...The next major phase in Sasol’s history came about due to the energy crisis of 1973. When oil prices rose sharply, Sasol proposed to the South African Government to build a much larger facility, Sasol Two, since there was a clear economic justification for this project at prevailing and projected prices. In 1974, approval was given and negotiations with the government through the Industrial Development Corporation included assurances regarding a floor price and loan guarantees. A major thrust was the desire to save foreign exchange associated with oil imports. At that time, the mandatory international sanctions against South Africa were not in place,1 and it is a common misperception that Sasol Two was built in response to the sanctions. This second facility was located at a green field site at a site called Secunda."

Refer: SSEB (Southern States Energy Board) 2006, American Energy Security: Building A Bridge To Energy Independence And To A Sustainable Energy Future, [Online], Available: [1] [22 August 2006], (pp. 69-70)

UndineCarmichaels 21:48, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Please note that Syntroleum is no longer producing aviation fuel for the air force:

The U.S.-based Syntroleum Corporation, which supplied fuel for the B-52 flight, has closed down because its primary customer was the Air Force and, given the Pentagon's limited-volume needs for testing, the company couldn't sustain profitability. SeveriG (talk) 10:33, 18 September 2008 (UTC)


Can anyone find references to, and summarise, the efficiency of this process, ie starting from coal and water, how much calorific value of oil do you get out for a given CV of coal (and other energy) in? A discussion of greenhouse emissions would also be valued Greglocock 01:00, 30 June 2007 (UTC)

You might want to contact one of the South African research groups at University of the Witwatersrand who have recently done quite a bit of work in this area - their website is, sure you will find a contact there to ask —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:40, 21 July 2008 (UTC)

Efficiency and GHG are 2 different things. Often confused. You could havce a highly inefficient process using biomass as the source of energy with very low greenhouse gas emissions or alternatively a very efficient process with only a small energy demand but when this energy is derived from fossil fuels or if the process has emissions of methane or nitrous oxide, it could have high GHG emissions. Which one would be favoured??? SeveriG (talk) 12:20, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Process clarification[edit]

Anyone noticed that this page does not talk at all about the process itself - conditions, catalysts, equilibrium, anyching chemichal??? Anyone can put any scientific facts into this? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Denger (talkcontribs) 00:23, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

Please permit me to echo this request! Had this request not already existed, I would have created it! I came to this article percisely because I wanted to get a layman's outline of the process. I leave with a load of crap about the chemistry, etc., etc. as already stated above. But not the faintest clue as to the actual process itself. I know (from driving past Mosgas in Mossel Bay, South Africa, many times) that it irreversibly pollutes a hell of a lot of water, but I know nothing else. Help! mikro2nd (talk) 15:50, 7 August 2010 (UTC)

Please expand a little more on what you want to see. The article starts off with "The Fischer–Tropsch process (or Fischer–Tropsch Synthesis) is a set of chemical reactions that convert a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen into liquid hydrocarbons." That seems pretty straightforward. We got the message about your not having the faintest clue, that much is clear but "the actual process itself." is kinda laid out as shown in the outline of the first half of the article:
  • 1.1 Other reactions relevant to the F-T process
  • 1.2 Chemical mechanisms
  • 1.3 Process conditions
  • 1.4 Product distribution
  • 1.5 Fischer-Tropsch catalysts
  • 1.6 LTFT and HTFT
Many Wikipedia articles are written by nerds who have difficulty communicating, so we rely on guidance from those without the "faintest clue". Your rant about Mosgas probably reflects the fact that Sasol in RSA precedes FT with gasification, which is a filthy process, especially (I think) when the feed is low quality, such as brown coal. If the topic interests you, you could take a nice photo of the plant (or its pollution) and upload this at Wiki Commons, and your insights stand some chance of getting publicized.--Smokefoot (talk) 16:16, 7 August 2010 (UTC)

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as start, and the rating on other projects was brought up to start class. BetacommandBot 07:55, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

Environmental Concerns about a different process altogether have been deleted from this article[edit]

This article is about the FT process which is CO+H→hydrocarbons.

This article is NOT about biomass→CO+H which is a whole other process, concerns about which have now been moved to the synthetic fuels page where they are relevent. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:27, 9 March 2008 (UTC)

FT is in fact the chemical synthesis of paraffinic hydrocarbons from CO and H2. The feedstocks can be any carbon containing material, coal, natural gas, biomass or refinery coke. The GHG balance will depend on the feedsock used. SeveriG (talk) 12:17, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Anderson-Schultz-Flory distribution?[edit]

Has anyone ever heard of the Anderson-Schultz-Flory distribution? I just did a Google search for Anderson Schultz Flory, yet found no useful leads, so I have tagged this phrase with a citation needed. DFH (talk) 12:28, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

No "t" in "Schulz". You'll get loads of hits. LeadSongDog (talk) 04:25, 6 June 2008 (UTC)
OK, I added a reference describing the "Anderson-Shulz-Flory model" as applied to the Fischer-Tropsch process. If someone would like to produce a graph similar to that in the reference, that would be a very nice addition to this article. Stokerm (talk) 00:07, 13 June 2008 (UTC)
Ooops, looks like I'm not the only one with problems figuring out how to spell Schulz. According to Google, Anderson-Schulz-Flory appears to be the preferred spelling, although quite a few hits pop up for Shulz, Schultz, and Shultz as well. Stokerm (talk) 00:32, 13 June 2008 (UTC)

You could also search for Fischer Tropsch ASF which gives a lot of good references SeveriG (talk) 12:15, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

South Africa/SASOL[edit]

Edited the bit about South Africa as it was misleading. Work on the FT process began in SA in the 1920s long before any apartheid concerns, motivated purely by the fact that the country did not have oil resources. The wording, in the past rather than present tense, suggested it was not used anymore.

We must try to avoid bringing apartheid into every SA-related topic. The fashion seems to be to introduce an anti-apartheid flavour or angle to every topic where it can be smuggled in, even when not directly related or even inaccurate. Booshank (talk) 17:00, 30 December 2009 (UTC) This explains the Anderson Schulz-Flory distribution in mathematical terms. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:37, 23 February 2010 (UTC)

Edits of March, 2010[edit]

I contracted the article by about 30% today. It was already a very good article. The article had a lot of redundancies about process and catalysis. I cut a lot of material on the US airforce, which might be of interest to air plane enthusiasts but is pretty tangential to Fischer-Tropsch process. Missing are details of product distribution under real conditions and how high MW products are recycled etc, perhaps from the Sasol operations. --Smokefoot (talk) 03:33, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

Further comments. It is a common misconception that the German war economy relied on FT technology, but FT was mainly used to prepare high cetane additives for their diesel. I cite the relevant article and the article that I replaced had been misinterpreted. The bulk of German fuels came from coal gasification. So I removed that part. Furthermore the article is about a engineering process, not about bombing of WWII installations or about aircraft. I realize that military history is of great interest to some editors and hobbyists, but that material is tangential to this article. For example, it does not elaborate about FT in the South African economy very much. FT is now topical because of its implications for the fuel supply in the 21st century.--Smokefoot (talk) 13:08, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Please understand that what you or I know is irrelevant, it is what we cite that matters on WP. If you want to say that there is a common misconception to that effect, then you need to cite a source to back that up, not simply delete the statement you disapprove of, which was sourced. There are certainly ample sources available on the Nazi use of coal hydrogenation process. I'd like to see something distinguishing the scale of that effort from the scale of F-T usage. Given that the domestic coal supplies were mostly low-grade I would expect that the F-T usage would have mostly been in the subjegated countries that had better coal. This history says F-T was used to a "much lesser extent" than Bergius, but doesn't put numbers to the fraction. It does say

When Allied bombing of the German synfuels plants began taking its toll in late 1944 and early 1945, the entire Nazi war machine began grinding to a halt. More than 92 percent of Germany's aviation gasoline and half its total petroleum during World War II had come from synthetic fuel plants. At its peak in early 1944, the German synfuels effort produced more than 124,000 barrels per day from 25 plants. In February 1945, one month after Allied forces turned back the Hitler's troops at the Battle of the Bulge, German production of synthetic aviation gasoline amounted to just a thousand tons – one half of one percent of the level of the first four months of 1944. None was to be produced afterwards. Lack of petrol meant the end of the war and the end of the Third Reich.

. This is not just incidental information, it is key to understanding the history of the process, its relevance in wider general history, the reason Fischer and Tropsch were able to do the development despite the very poor economic proposition (it only made sense in the context of a country determined to be able to fuel itself without imports). The discussion may need improvement, but it has a proper place in the article.User:LeadSongDog come howl 17:39, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Very good discussion, and thanks for the pointers on Wikipedia. "This is not just incidental information" (I guess this refers to the bombing part). The bombing and various battles are fascinating history, but tangential or a footnote to the FT process. The source that I deleted described the synthetic fuels effort of the Germany during the war. This source failed to distinguish FT-based fuels from other synfuels. The source that I cite does address this issue specifically.
  • "However, the FT process was at that time of secondary importance for the German fuel economy, producing 9.1% of the total German oil supply. [Ref: U.S. DOD. U.S. Naval Technical Mission in Europe Technical Report No. 248-45."
I hope that this information clarifies the reasoning behind my recent edits. Cheers, --Smokefoot (talk) 18:23, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

This discussion raises a broader issue: Wikipedia isn't just a place when any information that is sourced can stay, immune from deletion. I like to move sourced-but-irrelevant information to the talk page, so it can be seen and discussed by those working on an article, and can be re-used later when a more suitable article is found for the content.

We can't have a situation where we have to write a list of all the things we chose not to put in the article!

Ben (talk) 19:05, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

This is a little different. It was in the article. The choice by a single editor to remove it despite the implicit concensus of prior editors to leave it there over a protracted period needs some justification. If it was an entire article it would be the subject of the WP:AFD process, but individual paragraphs don't draw that degree of scrutiny. Instead we discuss them on the article talkpage and decide how to proceed. User:LeadSongDog come howl 19:31, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Hey Leadsongdog: Great to have this discussion. The main points are:
  • (1) that the claim that FT was super big deal to the Nazis is contradicted by my source and unsupported by the previous one (which referred to syn-fuels in general). At least that is my read, and I certainly welcome alterantive information to improve the article.
  • (2) I am unsure if the Nazi aspect merits much more than a few sentences, because we do not really discuss politics for the other aspects of the FT development (i.e. we do not discuss Qatar, S. Africa, Weimar Germany, Louisiana, etc - all of which have colourful "techno-politics"). I realize that there is a lurid interest in all things Nazi, which is cool, but the Nazi theme is tangential to this technology, which was well underway before WWII and continues today.
On a separate subject: editors are encouraged to chop verbage as well as to add - so long as relevant content is not compromised and the article is improved. For example, the FT article is only 80% of its length from 4 days ago (actually probably I cut about 50% of the original content). All knowledgeable editors should cut cited facts and even references when that material is inappropriate or can be improved. Simply being a fact or simply being a reference is not the criterion for inclusion, although it often seems that way. But that policy issue is aside from the point here, which focuses on some WWII history.
By the way, thanks for this civil exchange, some people get really heated about these things. --Smokefoot (talk) 02:31, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
Ah, I finally found the source you cited, at of course. (Terrible website to navigate, isn't it?) In re your "lurid" comment, for better or worse, common English usage has applied the name "Nazi" as shorthand for the entire German war effort, including the production of fuels. This was of course not a political endeavour in any significant respect but rather a strategic one. Nonetheless, even 9% of fuel production must be seen as having been a hugely significant amount in the conduct of mass mechanized warfare. Also on that site, looking at Table 1 in the Report of the Petroleum and Synthetic Oil Industry of Germany makes it clear that FT production was about 25% of their motor fuel, though not of aviation fuel nor fuel oil. It also makes clear that the FT produced fuel was comparable in cost to that produced using the hydrogenation process, and more than twice the cost of imported petroleum fuel. User:LeadSongDog come howl 07:44, 10 March 2010 (UTC)


I just undid this edit for an apparent COI (though it also lacked sources and carried evident WP:POV). If there's something useful in there, perhaps another editor can find it.User:LeadSongDog come howl 13:11, 23 April 2010 (UTC)

alkali promoters[edit]

"Cobalt seems to be the most active catalyst, although iron may be more suitable for low-hydrogen-content synthesis gases such as those derived from coal due to its promotion of the water-gas-shift reaction. In addition to the active metal the catalysts typically contain a number of "promoters," including potassium and copper."

What is written above is only partly true and very confusing. A distinction should be made between cobalt and iron catalysts in terms of promoters they benefit from . Although alkali metals can be beneficial for an iron catalyst it will effectively kill a cobalt catalyst. Even extremely small amounts of any group 1 alkali metals (Li, Na, K etc.) cause the turn over frequency to drop by a lot. Why the activity drop is a topic of controversy.

The way the quoted text is written could lead people to believe that both cobalt and iron use the same type of promoters which is clearly not true. <--- ref for alkali metals on cobalt.. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Vandahls (talkcontribs) 13:02, 16 July 2010 (UTC)

Reuse of CO2[edit]

The last paragraph on the page says "When it was combined with the dissolved carbon dioxide using a cobalt-based catalyst...." But never indicates what "it" is. This whole section needs to be rewritten. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:00, 13 July 2012 (UTC)