The process of turning natural gases into liquid fuels has existed since the 1920s, but that process, called Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, was both costly and complex. However, Siluria Technologies, based in San Francisco, now claims to be able to produce large quantities of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and chemicals at a lower cost than traditional refineries, according to the Houston Business Journal.
The start-up's process differs from Fischer-Tropsch synthesis by using a chemical catalyst to make ethylene from methane molecules, instead of intense heat and pressure.
"With a refinery, you're essentially boiling oil and separating it out," Rahul Iyer, vice president of corporate development at Siluria told media present at a demonstration . "We're building new molecules that weren't there before."
According to the company, Siluria's technology could make gasoline at a cost of roughly $1 per gallon. This news has not escaped the attention of the oil industry, as the latest round of fundraising was closed by Saudi Aramco, the world's largest oil company. Ed Dineen, Siluria's chief executive officer, said that the investment will help Aramco increase the value of their gas.
Siluria is currently in the process of establishing a new office in downtown Houston. While their future impact on the industry remains unclear, with the widespread availability of natural gas in the country, Siluria could be well positioned for future growth.
With any novel advancement in the industry, it is important to seek oil and gas strategy consulting to ensure that the right relationships are in place and processes follow established regulations. Working with a consultant with the necessary industry expertise can help companies identify the best path forward while avoiding potential pitfalls.