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Wärtsilä GasReformer converts waste gas to fuel

Written by Nick Blenkey

gas reformerMARCH 18, 2013 — A new Wärtsilä product, GasReformer, uses steam reforming technology to convert oil field associated gas, usually flared as waste, to a quality that can be used as fuel in Wärtsilä’s range of gas fueled engines.

While catalytic conversion of hydrocarbon feeds to hydrogen is a known process dating back to the early 20th century, Wärtsilä says its GasReformer “represents a totally new application under quite different conditions than that of the traditional process.”

“Wärtsilä has considerable experience in the treatment of gaseous fuels for fuel cells, and this patented product is a result of this development work,” says Tore Lunde, Director Wärtsilä Oil & Gas Systems.
“The uniqueness of the GasReformer is in its ability to convert unwanted heavier fractions from the gas into methane. By turning otherwise waste gas into fuel, the system significantly lowers operating costs while notably enhancing environmental sustainability. In locations where flaring is prohibited, this is especially important.”

The World Bank-led Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership estimates that globally around 150 billion cubic meters of gas are flared or vented every year, producinging some 400 million tons of carbon dioxide in annual emissions. That is equivalent to 30 per cent of the European Union’s gas consumption.

The Wärtsilä GasReformer treats this gas and converts it into a stable composition that can be used as fuel for Wärtsilä engines. This means that oil platforms and FPSO’s, which demand high levels of power, can utilize an energy source that was earlier not used at all. Furthermore, since the power demand was previously met using marine diesel oil (MDO), the bunkering of MDO can mostly be eliminated when using the GasReformer. This results in direct and measurable cost savings.

Wärtsilä GasReformer has been awarded the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) 2013 Spotlight on New Technology Award. The award recognizes innovative new products that provide significant impact for offshore exploration and production. The award criteria were that the product must be new, less than two years old, innovative, proven, have broad interest and appeal for the offshore industry, and provide significant benefits beyond existing technologies.

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