Fischer-Tropsch (FT) Synthesis

All saturated liquid fossil fuels consist of chains of carbon molecules with single bond hydrogen atoms attached. The longer the carbon chain, the heavier the product. The hydrocarbons with the shortest carbon chains are gases like methane (CH4), ethane (C2H6) and propane (C3H8), and the heaviest hydrocarbons are solids like tars and pitch.

FT synthesis combines carbon and hydrogen molecules into chains by reacting carbon monoxide with hydrogen in the presence of a metal catalyst, heat and pressure.

Product work-up and refining

The Syncrude product from the FT synthesis is refined or upgraded into higher value end products through traditional and Syncrude specific refining processes. The product range depends on the FT technology, process conditions and the refinery scheme or setup. New generation GTL plants are aimed primarily at producing middle distillates for transportation fuels, for example: diesel, kerosene and naphtha.

GTL products

Due to the removal of impurities before the gas is converted to liquid, GTL products have superior properties in terms of combustion efficiency and emission of some pollutants. GTL fuels are compatible with old, existing and future diesel engine technologies. This means that FT fuels can be   substituted for traditional fuels without any large scale modifications to fleets or infrastructure.


GTL naphtha can be used in ethylene and propylene manufacturing as well as blendstock for lighter fuels, such as petrol and kerosene. The highly paraffinic nature of the naphtha from the GTL process is an excellent refining feedstock that provides a higher ethylene and propylene yield than naphtha from petroleum refining.

Jet Fuel

Kerosene produced from GTL can be used as jet fuel to power jet engine aircraft. Special International Air Transport Association approval is required to get synthetic jet fuel certified for this application.


FT diesel is considered superior to conventional diesel as it has no sulphur content, near zero aromatics and a high cetane number, providing excellent combustion properties. FT diesel has superior environmental performance compared to conventional crude oil refinery diesel, providing significant reductions in emissions of particulates, NOx, SOx, carbon monoxide and light hydrocarbons.

Base oils and waxes

Base oils are the starting material for lubricants production. GTL lubricants and paraffinic waxes are of very high quality, with the potential to supply niche markets with high standard requirements.

Did you know?

  • UCG means coal is accessed underground, without the need for a surface mine.
  • New technology, such as directional drilling, and demand for energy, are driving expansion in the Syngas industry.
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