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Last Of 24 Giant Reactors Installed At Pearl Gas To Liquids Project
The lifting into place of the final 1,200 tonne reactor was another step towards the completion of construction on the Pearl GTL project. Construction is expected to be complete around the end of 2010 with project ramp-up then taking about 12 months.
The Heavy Paraffin Synthesis reactors are the core of the process of turning natural gas into high quality liquid transport fuels, baseoils for lubricants, and chemical feedstocks.
Inside each reactor are thousands of tubes, long enough in total to stretch from Qatar to Japan if laid end-to-end. Hydrogen and carbon monoxide are passed over a proprietary Shell catalyst in the tubes and converted into long chain waxy molecules and water. The long chain waxy molecules are then piped to another area of the plant to be made into Gas to Liquids products, whilst the water is treated and used in the plant as feedwater for steam generation.
The reactors were made in Germany, Italy and the United Arab Emirates before being shipped to Qatar. Each reactor has been lifted carefully into place by a huge 1,600 tonne Mammoet crane, the largest crane in Qatar. Combined, the 24 reactors weigh the same as over 9,200 Toyota Landcruisers.
Over two million freight tonnes of materials have already been shipped to the Pearl GTL site. Most of this material was delivered through a new quay built by Pearl GTL in Ras Laffan Harbour. This quay has allowed the importation of Pearl GTL material, including all 24 Heavy Paraffin Synthesis reactors, without the need to disrupt traffic outside Ras Laffan Industrial City.
Andy Brown, Shell’s Executive Vice President Qatar, said: “Much work remains to be done, but the installation of the last Heavy Paraffin Synthesis reactor is an important milestone in the construction of Pearl GTL. Shipping enormous pieces of equipment around the world and installing them with millimetre precision in a busy construction site is a considerable feat of engineering. I salute the team that has achieved this, on schedule and, most importantly, safely.”
Shell has been researching the Gas to Liquids process for over 30 years, and has around 1,100 patents in Heavy Paraffin Synthesis alone. The catalyst inside the Heavy Paraffin Synthesis reactors has a very large surface area, which maximises the efficiency of the chemical reaction. The surface area of the catalyst in the Heavy Paraffin Synthesis reactors when filled will be equivalent to 18 times the size of the State of Qatar.
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