Perhaps the oldest and best known process for making synthetic fuels is the Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) process¹. The original process was developed in the 1920s and 1930s and was actually commercialized in Germany by the late 1930s. The F-T process was used to produce fuel for both automobiles and military equipment.
The F-T process can be used to produce biofuels from virtually any kind of carbon-containing biomass, such as municipal waste, wood chips, celluloid grasses, etc. The first step in such a process is the gasification of the biomass to form Syngas, H2 + CO. The Syngas is then used for the F-T process using a catalyst, typically either iron or cobalt,
to produce hydrocarbons. By controlling several process parameters – such as temperature, pressure, ratio of H2 to
CO – the product composition can be controlled. Products ranging from light hydrocarbons to heavy waxes are
possible using the F-T process.