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13 January, 2022 - 22:37 By Tony Quested

Triple triumph as Johnson Matthey technology takes flight

Johnson Matthey has launched an innovative technology – HyCOgenTM –  to help enable the conversion of captured carbon dioxide (CO2) and green hydrogen into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). 

By combining HyCOgen with the award-winning FT CANS Fischer Tropsch technology – developed in collaboration with bp – Johnson Matthey offers an integrated, scalable solution for use in the efficient and cost-effective production of renewable power based SAF.

HyCOgen, Johnson Matthey’s Reverse Water Gas Shift technology, is a catalysed process to convert green hydrogen and CO2 into carbon monoxide, which is combined with additional hydrogen to form synthesis gas (syngas), a crucial building block in the manufacture of fuels and chemicals. 

The integration with the FT CANS technology provides an end-to-end, optimised and highly scalable process that turns over 95 per cent of the CO2 into high quality synthetic crude oil.

This synthetic crude oil can be further upgraded into sustainable drop-in fuel products including aviation fuels, renewable diesel and naphtha.

The scalability of the integrated HyCOgen/FT CANS solution enables cost-effective deployment across a wide range of project sizes – from small-scale, fed by hydrogen from a single electrolyser, through to world-scale with multiple large electrolyser modules.

The global aviation industry is responsible for 12 per cent of transport related CO2 emissions so substantial production of low carbon intensity SAF is essential to mitigate emissions. 

Both the EU2 and US3 are setting bold targets for its scale up and blending, and this is expected to increase SAF demand significantly. Johnson Matthey’s HyCOgen solution, along with the FT CANS technology, can help increase the supply of SAF through its efficient production at scale.

Jane Toogood, sector chief executive for Johnson Matthey, said: “Given the challenges associated with new propulsion technologies and airport infrastructure, plus the long asset life of aircraft, there are significant hurdles in moving from hydrocarbon-based aviation fuel to alternatives such as battery electric or hydrogen.

“This is where Johnson Matthey’s longstanding expertise and market-leading position in syngas generation technology can play a crucial role, by providing solutions that enable the production of sustainable drop-in fuels that are deployable today. 

“By combining HyCOgen with FT CANS, we can now deliver customers a cost-efficient, reliable and scalable technology to help increase SAF production, backed by our track record of successful technology development and commercialisation.”

In a separate success in the clouds, the first commercial airline flight using 100 per cent drop-in SAF enabled by technology from Virent and Johnson Matthey was completed before Christmas.

In an historic first for aviation, a passenger carrying commercial aircraft flew using SAF in one of its two engines. 

The BioForming® process was invented by Virent, a renewable fuels and chemicals technology company, and is being further advanced for commercial deployment with JM.

The Cambridge sustainable technologies business toasted a further success before the break with victory in an important IP protection case.
Along with partner Dow, quoted on Wall Street, JM was delighted with the successful conclusion of the arbitration case with Chinese company Luxi Chemical Group.

In 2017, an arbitration panel of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce held that Luxi used protected information from Dow and Johnson Matthey in the design, construction, and operation of its butanol and 2-ethylhexanol plants.

In 2021, the Liaocheng Court recognised the arbitral award of approximately $116 million following a report to a higher court.

In a joint release, Dow and JM said: “This ruling demonstrates fair enforcement of intellectual property and trade secret rights of foreign companies, which is critical to protect the legitimate operations and economic resiliency interests of domestic manufacturers in China, the US. and around the globe.

“Dow and Johnson Matthey are fully committed to defending their intellectual property rights and supporting the interests of LP OxoSM process licensees. 

“The companies, and their predecessors, have continuously improved the LP OxoSM Technology and offered it to the oxo alcohols industry for the past 50 years. 

“To date, the suite of LP OxoSM Technology has been licensed into a significant number of projects across 15 countries, representing a majority of the world’s licensed oxo alcohols capacity.

“Process licensees are provided performance warranties along with design and technical support at every step to ensure success.”

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