Catalyzing the Future of Sustainable Fuels

November 20, 2023

In the ever-evolving realm of sustainable energy, Shell, a global energy giant, is making significant advances with its Mini Bench-Scale Unit (MBU) project. This project harnesses the revolutionary IH2 technology, originally developed by GTI and subsequently licensed by Shell, to convert non-food biomass feedstocks into cleaner transportation fuels. With a remarkable 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, IH2 technology promises to reshape the future of fuel production.

The IH2 technology, a catalytic thermo-chemical process, has the remarkable capability to transform a diverse range of non-food biomass feedstocks, including wood, agricultural residues, algae, municipal waste, and plastic, directly into gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel.

Shell’s collaboration with Zeton on this venture marks a significant milestone, as it represents the latest IH2 plant project. Previous plants, boasting capacities ranging from a few grams to tons, were instrumental in laying the groundwork for this new effort. The motivation behind this new MBU project was clear: to shift from campaign processing to continuous operations. This new installation also features high alloy components, an adjustment made to consider the temperatures involved in the process.

One notable addition is the improved filtration system with a standby filter. This innovation significantly extends the plant’s runtime, aligning perfectly with sustainability objectives by optimizing long run times.

Like any ambitious project, the journey had its fair share of challenges. The solids feed screw required several design iterations ultimately improving its performance. Safety was a key point for the plant, with rigorous testing done to ensure that no hydrocarbon leakage would occur on-site, emphasizing Shell’s and Zeton’s commitment to safety and environmental responsibility.

Fitting all the essential components into a compact space was a formidable challenge. The project engineering and fabrication team’s expertise was instrumental in optimizing the layout and making efficient use of the available space.

The project’s outcomes speak volumes about the collaboration between Shell and Zeton as demonstrated by a highly successful Factory Acceptance Test (FAT). The project not only achieved its technical goals but also strengthened the collaborative relationship between the two organizations.

In May 2023, the innovative MBU unit was shipped from Zeton’s facility, marking a significant stride towards a greener, more sustainable energy future.

Zeton project manager, Bhavesh Patel: “It has been an incredible journey working closely with Shell on the Mini Bench-Scale Unit project. Our partnership with Shell has been marked by a strong spirit of collaboration, innovation, and a shared commitment to progress. Together, we’ve overcome challenges and achieved our goals. This project is not only a testament to our technical achievements but also to the strength of our collaboration.

The successful Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) was a significant milestone, reinforcing our confidence in the project’s potential. We are excited about the future and the impact the MBU unit will have in shaping a more sustainable energy future. This project has not only strengthened our relationship with Shell but has also opened doors to new possibilities and innovations. We look forward to continued collaboration and the positive changes we can bring to the world of sustainable energy.”